Thursday, December 6, 2007
I normally don't do dressing up; but I will make an exception for the holiday season. So my Chocolate Cupcake gets the creamy treatment to match the festive atmosphere. Besides, kids love it. Another dress option is the drizzle of ganache, the dark chocolate glaze (not shown), my preference.
After all the testing, I am now in a state of perpetual sugar rush.
Hope you will enjoy them, too. Stay warm everyone.
Ahh...the brownies... These Kahlua Brownies - the picture on the left - are decadent. It's rich in underlining coffee flavor, and the texture lies somewhere between cake and fudge. We're talking about the best of two worlds here. I didn't put any nuts because I don't want to be distracted.
The picture on the right is the Old-Fashioned Icebox Cookie; it is a tribute to my childhood. It's simple, honest, a little nostalgic. When you need a break from all the other flavors, just take a bite of this sugar cookie. A sigh of relief. The recipe is from the old dessert book my mother entrusted to me - we called it 'the Blue Book' - and it tastes the same as I remember.
My favorite cookies! They are all tried and true recipes that amused a lot of people in the past.
The one on the right is the Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies. If I am allowed only one cookie to bake for the rest of my life, I'd pick this one without a hesitation. The origin is the Toll House recipe, you know, the one you can find on the back of its package. But over the years I tweaked it little by little, and I am now quite satisfied with my version.
The middle one is called Mexican Wedding Cake. The ingredients are rather simple: flour, butter, sugar and chopped pecans. It's almost hard to believe these can create such a sensation! Maybe the secret is in chopping the pecans really fine...by hand. This buttery cookie truly melts in your mouth, with a whiff of cinnamon as an spicy accent.
The one on the left is a holiday special: Cranberry Gingerdrop Cookies. This one is a bit cake-y kind of cookie, and is quite refreshing. It features the fresh cranberries and crystalized ginger as main ingredients. When I open the oven door, I could smell the tartness of cranberry. When I bite, the ginger gives a subtle kick. Love this recipe.
For the past week, I have been really busy baking - testing batch, that is. The Thanksgiving week is long gone, and now it's December: time to gear up for the end-of-year holidays.
First thing's first: I am adding one more pie to the table. This is a simple pear pie I repeat baking for myself. Layers of thinly sliced pears, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, patiently baked to melt in the mouth. I cannot resist a splash of whipping cream when I have this pie (I'm too lazy to actually whip the cream...)
Monday, November 26, 2007
After the Thanksgiving holiday passes, even the Union Square Farmers Market starts to look a little desolate. There are still a few farmers who bring hardy greens (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kales & mustard greens) but the overall colors are definitely turning to an earthy tone. I imagine the days when there was no supermarket that carries tomatoes and lettuce all year around.
The dinner menu in winter becomes quite a challenge without the array of fresh produce from this market. But I savor what's available, and keep dreaming of the first sight of ramps.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I am just about finishing off my own apple pie. It took 7 days - nibbling one piece everyday, except for the first day I ate 2 pieces - very satisfied.
I ended up baking 9 pies and 10 dozen tartlets. My oven was on duty most of the time from Saturday to early Wednesday morning. And that's just for baking: shopping and prepping started way before, and delivering stretched until late Wednesday afternoon. For those who are trying my pies, thank you: I hope you will enjoy them. I certainly enjoyed every step of it: rolling out the dough, cutting up apples, thrill of the final minutes of baking time... All worth the care when the happily baked pies and tarts come out of the oven, bubbling and steaming.
Today is a day-off. Tomorrow, I'll be contemplating what can be added in December.
Have a happy Thanksgiving Day!
Friday, November 16, 2007
I finally have the picture of pumpkin tartlets. They are diminutive in size, but just one bite makes my mouth very happy. Now I declare "Tea time!" That's fitting; let's take a break before the frenzy starts...
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Cool weather brings the joy of baking pies. For this year's Thanksgiving Holiday, I am baking the classic three: apple pie, pumpkin pie and pecan tartlets from scratch, of course.
This deep, double-crusted apple pie came out really nice. The combination of Granny Smith, Northern Spy and Cortland apples seem to create the nice balance of tartness and texture.
You can't spend the Thanksgiving weekend without having a slice of pumpkin pie...can you? Its flavor is full of pumpkin, hint of clove, and just silky creamy yummy.
Pecan pie is my favorite. And to make it easy to gobble down, I am baking the two-bites size individual tartlets instead. The goodness of a pecan pie is all there - buttery crust, crunchy pecans, the filling that is not too sticky nor too sweet - I can just keep popping them in my mouth all day long. Highly dangerous, indeed.
I will be taking more pictures as I bake through this winter.