French Macarons

Macarons

I recently bought some edible rose buds from Chinatown and love using them every chance I get. We had a Valentine’s Day bake sale coming up and I figured, why not make some macarons? It was a good opportunity to make them considering we just had an exam aka post exam stress-relief. Macarons themselves are not difficult to make. It definitely takes practice though to become familiar with all of the steps required and getting used to using the scale for measurements. With practice you’ll be on your way to success. Bake these macarons whether it’s for Valentine’s or even just to treat yourself (because you know you deserve it).

For ideas on other flavors of macarons to make check out my previous posts on Chocolate, Green Tea, Lemon, Pineapple, or Pistachio macarons. You can also go the extra step and make a Macaron Tree if you’re having any special events!

Macarons

Printable Recipe

Makes: 35 macarons (1 ½″)

Ingredients:

  • 110 grams almonds or almond flour (~ 1 cup)
  • 200 grams confectioner’s sugar (~ 1 2/3 cup)
  • 100 grams egg whites (3-3 1/2 eggs- no need to age)
  • 50 grams granulated sugar (~1/4 cup)
  • pinch salt
  • food coloring (optional)

**Highly recommend to invest in a scale (cheap on Amazon) and measure out the ingredients in grams- I have used both methods and my success rate is always higher using grams**

Directions:

  1. Prep two baking sheets with parchment paper and draw your desired circle size. You can use a bottle cap or print out a template and trace it.
  2. If you don’t have almond flour, blend the almonds in a food processor until very fine. Add in the confectioner’s sugar and pulse until incorporated. Sift the mixture using a sieve into a medium bowl and set aside. Add any large pieces that don’t go through the sieve back to the food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl and whip at medium speed, until foamy.
  4. Mix in the granulated sugar and salt and whip for 3-6 minutes until stiff peaks form. If you lift the whisk, the peaks should remain standing and will look shiny and smooth.
  5. Add any food coloring at this point (I took a toothpick, dipped it in the pink gel food coloring, and wiped it into the mix). Blend until the color is distributed.
  6. Use a rubber spatula to fold your almond-sugar mixture into the stiffened egg whites. You won’t expect it to come together at first but after 40-50 strokes (it’s really important to keep track!), the macaron mixture should look like the consistency of lava. If you spoon up the batter and drop it back into the bowl, it will take about 10 seconds to incorporate itself back in. Watch this 1-minute video here if you are unsure of how to complete this step; it will be well worth it.
  7. Spoon your batter into a large piping bag (18″) fitted with a large circle tip (1/2″). Don’t overfill your bag or it will be harder when piping the macarons.
  8. Pipe the macarons onto your templates. Don’t fill the whole circle because the macaron batter will spread by a small amount.
  9. Pick up the pan and drop it onto the counter about 2-3 times to get rid of any air bubbles which can cause your macarons to crack.
  10. Preheat the oven to 300 F°. Let the macarons dry for about 30 minutes to 1 hour in an undisturbed area before baking them. You will know when they are ready when you touch the top of the macaron and it doesn’t stick to your finger.
  11. Bake the macarons for about 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Tips:

-I use a macaron silicon mat that I place underneath the parchment paper and use as a template when piping. After I pipe one sheet of macarons, I quickly slide the silicon mat out so I can use it for the next sheet.

-Sprinkle some crushed edible rose on top and color the batter with pink gel food coloring to make the macarons pictured.

-For more tips check out the Ten Commandments on Macarons here

Macarons

Chocolate Ganache

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and set over the saucepan (should not be touching the water).
  2. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add in the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt.
  3. Set aside until cooled and thickened while mixing occasionally.

Tips:

-The ganache can take about 30 minutes to thicken at room temperature. It is important to stir it frequently so that no clumps form. You can refrigerate it for a few minutes so that it can thicken faster.

Macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookie For One (Or Two)

Chocolate Chip CookieHave you ever craved a cookie but didn’t want 20 extra cookies staring at you after you’ve satisfied your stomach’s needs? Or maybe you just want a quick treat after studying all day long? And above all, a dessert that doesn’t turn your whole kitchen upside down. Finally, a soft and chewy cookie recipe for one! Or two…. If you’re really feeling generous and kind that is. It took some self control to take a picture of this cookie without tasting it first, but it survived haha.

You can be creative with this cookie and put M&Ms inside instead. You can also bake it in a mini cast iron skillet and serve it with a scoop (or a few scoops) of ice cream on top. Make it your own & enjoy this personal cookie for one!

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie for One (Or Two)

Printable Recipe

Makes: 1 large 7-inch cookie

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whisked egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tablespoons chocolate chips, divided

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix in the brown sugar, 1 tbsp egg whites, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, flour, salt, and baking soda until well combined.
  3. Fold in 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Shape the dough into a disk and place onto the prepped baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of chocolate chips over the dough and push them in on top. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 Fº. You want it slightly undercooked which is the secret to a soft and chewy cookie.
  5. Remove the cookie and place on a wire rack to finish cooling or eat it warm with a cold glass of milk.

Tips:

-For the tablespoon of eggs, you can also just whisk a whole egg and use a tablespoon from that if preferred. I just happened to have egg whites left over and used those in the cookie.

-Use a mixture of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips for more variety. You can even sprinkle some sea salt on the cookie before baking it.

Adapted from Cooking Classy

 

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

HolidayCookies6

I’ve been on the search for a satisfying chocolate chip cookie that is irresistibly chewy, soft, and complete with a large glass of cold milk. A glass of milk with cookies is like eating cake with icing, so much so that I might as well include milk in my list of ingredients haha. I’ve made this recipe twice during Thanksgiving because it was that good and found myself making it again yesterday, despite having to study for an exam. I froze a few to stave off any cravings I may have during the next few weeks for these cookies, who I know will be calling my name.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you need to destress or procrastibake to avoid that monster of a exam that you’ll be facing in a week, then take a break. Give these cookies a chance, you’ll be delighted.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut the butter into slices and place in a medium skillet over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, whisk constantly for several minutes until it starts to smell nutty and you see brown bits forming on the bottom. You now have browned butter. It will add a different dimension to the cookies with it’s nutty aroma.
  4. Remove from heat immediately and set aside in a separate bowl to cool.
  5. Beat together the cooled butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  6. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and greek yogurt on low speed, until incorporated for about 10-15 seconds. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. This will prevent you from over mixing the dough, which will cause a stiff cookie.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator. Don’t skip the chilling step, you’ve already made it this far.
  8. Roll the cookie dough in balls about 3 tablespoons of dough each and place on the prepped baking sheet.
  9. Sprinkle as much or as little sea salt as you like on the cookies before placing in the oven. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 Fº.
  10. Remove the cookies and place on a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Adapted from the Ambitious Kitchen

Tips

-For more variation, you can use both milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips, adding ¾ cup of each. Even better, you can use chunks, mini chips, or whatever type of chocolate you desire.

-The longer you refrigerate the dough, the better the flavor of the cookies.

-This recipe can be made without a mixer or electric beater for ease and convenience as well.

-Underbaked cookies are the secret to having soft and chewy cookies the next day so be careful not to go over the 9-11 minutes.

-You can freeze this dough for up to 3 months. Roll into balls and place into freezer friendly bags. To bake, simply place on a baking sheet and bake as directed adding a minute to the bake time.Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lavender Honey Shortbread Cookies

Lavender cookies

Just recently, I was at a farmer’s market that had everything from local honey to farm fresh eggs. It was a local event held on someone’s farm where they invited other farmers to come and share their produce. One of the highlights was getting to see the miniature ponies and even a 3 day old calf on the property (animals not for sale though)!

We passed by a lavender stand that had everything lavender themed- essential oils, laundry spray, hand cream, you name it. The last product that the vendor showed me was culinary lavender. Once I heard the word “culinary”, a lightbulb turned on in my head and I started brainstorming of recipes to use it with.  A quick Google search revealed that lavender can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, such as shortbread cookies or even a lavender rub for a pot roast. I decided to make the lavender shortbread cookies and loved them!

These lavender cookies are simple and fragrant delicious bites. Dangerously addicting.

Printable Recipe

Lavender Honey Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lavender buds, roughly chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat: 350º F

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar, honey, and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  2. Add in the flour and salt and mix until well combined, taking care not to over mix.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes or until firm. Roll out to about ¼ inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. If you don’t have cookie cutters, you can also place the dough on parchment paper and shape it into a log, about 2 inches in diameter. Freeze for 30 minutes and the remove the dough and cut into slices.
  4. Place the cookies on a sheet and bake at 350º F for 7-8 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from My Fancy Pantry

Tips:

-If you used cookie cutters for this recipe, you can place the baking sheet of cookies in the freezer for 5 minutes so that they firm up and maintain their structure when baked.

-To get your butter to room temperature faster if in a rush, you can slice the stick of butter and spread it out on a plate. The greater surface area will allow the butter to soften quicker.

What recipes have you used lavender in?

 

Eclairs (Pâte à Choux)

Eclairs

Hurray for the 100th post of SimplyDelicious! For this post, I chose a dessert that can be served at any occasion or celebration. Pierre Herme’s eclairs are something else. After seeing so many pins of them on Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own version of sophisticated and modern eclairs. The key I found was to use a different type of topping on each eclair so that the finished picture has a lot of variety and complexity to it. You can use whatever you have handy. I had a few blueberries and strawberries so I used those. I also had some green tea chocolate chips I had made and stored so I chopped a few and added those along with some chopped walnuts and chocolate for a complete colorful look overall. The first time I made these I was so surprised at how easy it was! Do not let the long recipe fool you, I just put detailed directions so that the first try is a success. The same eclair recipe can also be used for making cream puffs and filling them with whipped cream. The dough is one of the most versatile as other options include making gnocchi, churros, funnel cakes, or profiteroles.

Eclairs

Eclairs

Full Printable Recipe Here

Pate a Choux

Ratio: 2 parts water, 1 part butter, 1 part flour, and 2 parts egg

Preheat: 425 Fº

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces water (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces flour (a scant cup)
  • 8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs)

Directions

  1. Add the butter, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour. Stir quickly until the flour absorbs the water and begins to gel turning into a paste. The dough formed will start to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
  3. Take the pan off the stove and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. The dough has to be warm but not too hot.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until completely incorporated. It is better to transfer it to a standing mixer and use an electric beater, but they can also be mixed in using a wooden spoon.
  5. The dough will incorporate with the eggs and turn into a paste once the eggs are fully in.
  6. Using a large round tip, pipe out the eclairs, about 4 to 5 inches long.
  7. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 F for about 15-20 minutes. To test if they are done, remove one from the oven and wait for a few minutes. If it collapses, it still needs more time.
  8. Set aside to cool and prepare the pastry cream.

Adapted from Ratio (book)

Eclairs

Pastry Cream (will need half of this cream for the eclairs recipe)

Makes: 3 pounds

Ingredients

  • 1 quart milk (4 cups)
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 7.5 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 6 ounces egg yolks (10 yolks)
  • 2.5 ounces cornstarch (½ cup)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (½ stick)

Directions

  1. Bring the milk, vanilla bean, and 3 ounces (.40 cups) of sugar to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk the sugar mixture into the egg yolks.
  3. Add ¼ of the boiling milk to the egg yolks and stir. Return this mixture to the pan and whisk rapidly until it starts to boil. Keep on whisking it for 2 minutes as it starts to thicken.
  4. Remove the pan from the stove and transfer the pastry cream to a clean mixing bowl.
  5. Fold in the butter until it is just melted taking care not to over mix.
  6. Place plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream so a skin does not form and place the bowl into an ice bath.

Eclairs

Chocolate Glaze 

Makes: 13 oz

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ounces light corn syrup (4 tsp)

Directions

  1. Melt all the ingredients using the double boiler (bain-marie method).
  2. Remove from heat and stir the glaze until it is slightly thickened.
  3. Use instantly, before it starts to dry.

Assembly

Take the cooled eclair shells and pipe in the pastry cream from one end using a piping bag fitted with a circle tip. Make sure the cream fills the whole shell. In a single, smooth stroke, drag the top of the eclair through the warm chocolate glaze. Refrigerate the eclairs and serve within 8-12 hours.

Eclairs

Be creative in your mix of toppings for the eclairs!

Eclairs

Simple eclairs in their purest form.

Eclairs

Finished product with the right pop of color!

 

 

What is the most unique twist on eclairs that you have made/tasted?

(could be flavor, filling, toppings, etc.)

Divergent Cake

Divergent Cake

Birthdays are so special. Birthdays are also a reason to bake up a cake. What celebration doesn’t call for that? It was time to finally put an end to the cake drought we’ve been suffering (last one I baked was an Little Black Dress cake for my friend’s party). With a little fondant of course. Fondant’s hard to ignore and it somehow makes it way to every celebration. It just adds the right amount of pizzazz to any cake like a glossy top coat to your nail polish. So fondant it was. Now the challenging part: what theme should the cake be centered around?

Divergent Cake

Well, after many brainstorming and Pinterest sessions to find a cake for my sister’s birthday, we suddenly agreed on a theme. We had just seen Divergent at home and Insurgent the next day at the movies, which really inspired us. In case you haven’t seen either of these, they are based on a bestselling novel by Veronica Roth (she has a role in the first movie so keep an eye out for her!). Her dystopia novel comes to life along with its society-divided factions which are defined by traits. Each child goes to a Choosing Ceremony where they pick the faction they will join for the rest of their lives. An action packed mix of rebellion, deception, and upright honesty where the main character, Tris, leaves her selfless Abnegation faction to join the adventurous, fearless Dauntless faction brings excitement tying the whole story together. The main character is Divergent, meaning that she has 3 or more of the traits these factions have which poses a threat to the government who dislike the rebellious Divergent. The best way I found to integrate the movie into the cake was to focus on the five factions and so that’s what I topped the cake with. I put fire and coals (crushed oreos) to surround the cake, because that was the symbol of the Dauntless faction that Tris chose.

Birthday Cakes Across the Years 

Batman Cake

https://simply-delicious.org/2014/05/11/batman-fondant-cake/

Chinese Takeout Cake

https://simply-delicious.org/2013/05/05/chinese-takeout-anyone/

Rainbow Cake

https://simply-delicious.org/2012/04/24/surprises-abound/

Divergent Themed Cake 

Divergent Cake

I used Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake which you can find here and paired that with a light, creamy Vanilla Bean frosting. The combination was great, because the icing did not have that generic overly sweet taste and the cake itself was light and fluffy. The secret to this frosting was whipping the butter for 8 minutes until it was as smooth as a ribbon of silk before mixing it with the powdered sugar. I don’t usually eat the fondant part of the cake as it is has a sickly sweet flavor that just throws you off even before you get to the cake and icing inside. It definitely is worth the magical effect that it gives your cake though.

Divergent Cake

Each circle represents one of the five factions. Starting from the top yellow symbol, clockwise, are Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, Candor, & Erudite.

Dauntless: brave, fearless, take risks

Abnegation: selfless, always help others hence the hands

Amity: kind, optimistic, earth-friendly

Candor: truthful, see everything as black or white

Erudite: curious about the world, intelligent

Divergent (no symbol): three or more of the above, rebellious, immune to control

Factionless (no symbol): the ones who don’t fit in

Divergent Cake

 

What movie-themed cakes have you made?

 

Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon

Ever wanted to make a great looking dessert without putting in too much effort? If so (which I’m sure we’ve all had those thoughts at least once) then simply look to Puff Pastry sheets! I first tried this recipe from the back of a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry box and have loved it ever since. This and the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe are the best two recipes that I have tried from boxes. I’ve made a few adaptations to make it easier to make and to add some variation to the original recipe. It’s nice to know that the longest time you’ll spend making this is probably waiting for the Puff Pastry to thaw and not kneading dough haha. Not to mention, it’s also the perfect recipe to make when having guests over for dinner or even for last minute Valentine’s Day desserts.

Strawberry Napoleon

Printable Recipe

Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • ½ of 17.3 ounce package of Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed (1 sheet)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean or ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of strawberries
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Optional: mint leaves

Directions

Preheat: 400 F°

  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Each pastry box comes with 2 sheets inside. Unfold your thawed pastry sheet and cut it into three long strips along the folded marks. Cut each long strip into 4 pieces.
  3. Brush the puff pastries with 1 egg white and place into the oven. They will take about 10-12 minutes, or until a golden brown color.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Split each puff pastry into 2 halves and set aside.
  6. Set aside 8 puff pastry tops and place 8 pastry bottoms on plates.
  7. Whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  8. Start layering the puff pastry by spreading some of the whipped cream on the bottom layer. Cover with a few strawberries, almonds, and then another puff pastry. Repeat step 8 for two filled layers.
  9. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals while stirring in between.
  10. Drizzle melted chocolate across the pastries and sprinkle sliced almonds & powdered sugar over them. Top it off with mint leaves and enjoy!

Adapted from Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Box

Strawberry Napoleon

Tips:

*For the remaining egg yolk you can make some chocolate mousse which requires 1 egg yolk. To store it, place the egg yolk in an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of water. Do not keep it for longer than 2 days.

*Using parchment paper makes cleaning your baking sheets easier, not to mention, eliminating the risk of your pastry sticking to your baking sheet. You can also use cooking spray if parchment paper is not available, but keep an eye on your pastries to make sure that they do not brown too quickly.

*For serving more people, you can make double the servings by using the whole Puff Pastry package and doubling the amount of filling. For larger Napoleons, you can choose to cut the long strips into 3 instead of 4 pieces or you can make it longwise and not cut it into squares at all.

*Other filling variations: any pudding, add chocolate to the whipped cream, mix in pudding with the whipped cream, add various fruits such as raspberries or blackberries, etc.

*You can use a large pastry star tip for piping the whipped cream. Other options include using a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off or spooning it onto the pastry sheets.

 

Napoleon Pictures Along the Way

Strawberry Napoleon

This is ½ of a Puff Pastry box and you can see the folded lines where I cut horizontally. I choose to cut each strip into 4 pieces, but you can also cut it into 3 pieces or leave it longwise.

Strawberry Napoleon

The golden brown puff pastries ready to be split in half and filled. I have more puff pastry sheets here because I prepared the whole package (doubled the recipe). For one half, I cut the pastry strips into 4 and for the other half I cut them into 3 pieces. You can notice the size difference in the picture above. If you want larger Napoleons, I would go ahead and cut each strip into 3 rectangles. Rather than 8 servings, you will get 6.

Strawberry Napoleon

Here, it’ll be hard to resist the temptation to snack on your strawberries for the Napoleon…

Strawberry Napoleon

Time to dig in!

 

What are your favorite desserts using Puff Pastry?

 

 

 

Treat Yo’ Self Thursdays: Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

There’s always that one ingredient that you’ve been wanting to use in a recipe, but have been putting it off for a long time. In my case, it was Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses. I bought them, because they were a unique flavor of the Hershey’s Kisses yet I didn’t know what to make with them! Last weekend, I finally decided to check them off my list and make thumbprint cookies. These buttery cookies are essentially a shortbread made with butter, sugar, and flour. The egg yolks and baking powder add to the chewiness, while the salt and vanilla/almond extracts enhance the flavor.

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

If you are looking for a quick yet great looking cookie recipe, then you are in the right place! Within less than an hour, you can be sitting down and relaxing with a glass of milk and of course, these wonderful Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies.

After making this recipe, I was inspired to make a detailed post with explanations on making the perfect shortbread cookie with the ratio and different variations that you can make use of. Keep an eye out for this upcoming post in the future!

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Printable Recipe Here

Total Time: 40 minutes    Makes: 20-24 cookies

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • red food coloring, 3-4 drops
  • 20-24 Peppermint Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

Directions

Preheat: 350 F°

  1. Prepare your baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
  3. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until well incorporated. If the dough is to sticky to roll into balls, add another ¼ cup of flour and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  6. Roll dough into 1 inch balls (about the size of a tablespoon) and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  7. Use your thumb or  the end of a cap to make a well about ½ inch deep in the top of each dough ball.
  8. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then reform the wells in each of the cookies by pressing down on them again.
  9. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate chips and the heavy cream. Stir every 20 seconds until the mixture is smooth.
  10. Add 3 drops of red gel food coloring to the chocolate and mix well.
  11. Fill each cookie with about a teaspoon of the red chocolate using a piping bag or a spoon.
  12. With the remaining chocolate, drizzle it onto the cookies using a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off.
  13. Press one peppermint kiss into the center of each cookie. Allow it to cool for an hour until set and hardened. You can also put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes for quicker results.

Recipe Adapted from Lecremdelacrumb

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Tips

*For some more pictures you can visit Sally’sBakingAddiction recipe to see the process in action.

*To form the indentation in each cookie, you can be creative in what you use whether it be a cap of chapstick or the end of a teaspoon measuring spoon.

*You can change this recipe by replacing the peppermint kiss with a chocolate one or even eliminating the Hershey’s kiss altogether. Other variations include filling the cookies with caramel, jam, or brownies.

*Your dough should not be sticky like toothpaste when forming the 1 inch balls. Refrigerate it for about an hour if it is.

*If the dough cracks when you are making the indent, try to smooth it out. A few cracks are fine, because they will later be covered with the drizzled icing.

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

What is your favorite thumbprint cookie recipe?

Samoa Cookies aka Caramel Delites

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: those famous Girl Scout ‘Caramel Delite’ cookies that most people scramble for whenever the Girl Scouts start selling cookies & then crave once the season is over. Why wait for one of these cookies when you can learn how to make them for whenever you please?

These have been on my Ultimate Food Bucket List for a long time and I’m very happy that I finally got to attempt them. Although the total time spent making these was around 3 hours, it was well worth it and I am planning to make them again soon. I have no doubt that you will love them as much as I did!

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies Adapted from JustaTaste 

Printable Recipe Here

Makes: 60 cookies

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut Topping Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 15 ounces store bought soft caramel (or homemade)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (can also substitute milk or semi-sweet)

Directions     

For the Cookies:

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a bowl with a mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time to the creamed butter. Mix between each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the milk and vanilla extract, blending until combined and the dough starts to form larger pieces.
  5. Divide the dough in half, pressing it together to compact it into two disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).
  6. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Cut out as many cookies as you can using two different sized cookie cutters (or a doughnut shaped cookie cutter OR any circular shaped top).
  8. Place the cut-out cookies on a Silpat or parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the cookies are a light-golden color. Transfer to a wire-rack to cool.

For the Coconut Topping:

  1. Spread out the shredded coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 F oven until toasted, stirring frequently to ensure even browning and so they do not burn.
  3. Remove the toasted coconut from the oven and set aside.
  4. Melt the caramels, milk, and salt in a double boiler by placing them into a heat safe bowl or saucepan set over a larger saucepan of simmering water.
  5. Stir until the caramels are completely melted and remove from the heat.
  6. Mix in ¾ of the caramel with the toasted coconut in a bowl.
  7. Carefully spread the remaining ¼ cup of caramel on top of the cooled cookies. Press on some of the coconut mixture and let the cookies cool for about 30 minutes. (If the caramel cookie mixture cools or hardens, just put it back on top of the double boiler and warm it until it is spreadable)
  8. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
  9. Dip the bottoms of the cookies in the chocolate and place onto parchment or waxed paper.
  10. Use a piping bag to drizzle the tops of the cookies with chocolate. Set aside to cool and then enjoy!

Tips:

-If you do not have a piping bag to pipe the chocolate, you can also use a ziploc bag and snip off a tiny piece of the corner

-When toasting the sweetened coconut in the oven, be sure to stir them frequently as they burn easily and quickly!

Samoa Cookies: Step by Step

samoa cookies

Cutting out the cookies using two different sized circle cookie cutters

samoa cookies

Cookies waiting to be covered in caramel!

samoa cookies

Caramel, milk, & sugar about to go onto the stove using the double boiler method (place pot over a larger pot of simmering water and also make sure that it does not touch the water)

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: Before (still delicious at this stage, be careful of who you allow to taste test haha)

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: After (definitely do not leave these out of your eyesight!)

samoa cookies

One Word: Yum!!!

 

Have you ever attempted to make any of the other Girl Scout cookies? Have you ever made samoa in a different baking style than cookies (such as cakes, ice-cream, etc)?

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

It all started with a tapioca drink. After a strong recommendation from a friend, I decided one day to finally order the green mystery frappe. The sweet, yet slight bitter taste of the matcha green tea with the combination of the chewy tapioca pearls instantly had me. Ever since, whenever I’d stop by a tapioca shop, I’d always hear myself respond “green tea frappe” when asked “what would you like to order?”. It wasn’t soon before I realized there was a whole world out there full of green tea flavored desserts for me to discover. Macarons. Cookies. Cake. Ribbon Ice. Chocolate. Buttercream. You name it, they’ve probably made it. And of course, ice cream! Which brings us to this post here which will satisfy any green tea cravings you may have. If you are curious as to how this would taste before making it, I suggest buying the Häagen-Dazs® Green Tea ice cream from your grocery store. It was the only brand that I found that sells the unique flavor of green tea. If you know of any others, feel free to share and comment below.

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream from OneInstantCookbook

Time Required: 30 minutes active time; 6 hours inactive time

Makes: 1 Quart

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of ice in a bowl
  • 2 cups half and half (OR 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (18 grams) matcha green tea powder
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
  • Optional toppings: sliced mangos/strawberries; condensed milk

Equipment: Ice cream maker

Directions

  1. Freeze the ice cream bowl for 24 hours.
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the half and half, sugar, and salt.
  3. Start heating up the mixture over medium heat and then add in sifted green tea powder. Stir until the mixture starts to foam and is hot to the touch, but not boiling.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer it to a bowl sitting in an ice bath. Once it is cool, refrigerate the bowl for 2-3 hours.
  5. Transfer to a pre-chilled ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions (around 20-25 minutes).
  6. Transfer to airtight container and freeze for 3 hours before serving.

Tips

  • If you are looking to buy green tea match powder, you can buy some from Amazon or from your local Japanese store.
  • Optional toppings that go great with green tea ice cream include fruits such as mangos or strawberries with a drizzle of condensed milk.

Step by Step Pictures Below

Matcha IngredientsClockwise: Green Tea Matcha; Half & Half; Granulated Sugar; Pinch of SaltMatcha Green Tea Ice CreamWhisk together the half and half, sugar, and salt over medium heat.Matcha Green Tea Ice CreamSift in the green tea powder and mix thoroughly. Matcha Green Tea Ice CreamChill your mixture in an ice bath and once cool, place into the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before churning in the ice cream maker. Enjoy!

What is your favorite way to eat/drink match green tea?

Maple Bacon Brittle Ice Cream

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

Do you ever walk past the chips aisle & wonder how some flavors are created? Waffles and Chicken. Cappuccino. Maple Bacon. These adventurous titles tend to stand out against the other generic BBQ or cheese flavors. While in the store one day, maple & bacon caught my eye and I soon started noticing it in other foods such as cookies, cake, and even ice-cream. When baking, I love experimenting with new flavors and tastes and before you know it, maple bacon brittle ice-cream was on my to-do list. I figured I would make an ice-cream, because I just got an ice-cream maker so it was a great opportunity to use it! Despite how strange it may sound as bacon is a savory item which we don’t associate with sweets, I loved it and so did my whole family. Now let’s just say, some dishes are made that way to stay that way. Cappuccino falls in that category. The cappuccino chips were definitely out there, and it was strange having a chocolatey aftertaste with a small hint of coffee after eating chips. Alright well on to the recipe below with a few step-by-step photos:

Maple Bacon Brittle Ice-Cream from WhipThisUp Blog

Makes: 1 Quart

Bacon Brittle 

Ingredients

  • 3 strips of turkey bacon
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Wrap a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Grease and set aside.
  2. Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and then chop to a fine mince.
  3. Cook sugar over medium-high heat, until it melts and turns golden (about 10 minutes or if lumps form, remove the pan from the heat and stir until melted). Immediately remove from heat when the sugar has completely melted and has turned a light amber color.
  4. Right away, stir in the butter, baking soda, and chopped bacon.
  5. Quickly pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and allow to cool until hardened (about 15 minutes).
  6. Break or cut into very small pieces with a skillet, knife, or other cooking utensil.
  7. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator while you make the ice-cream.

Maple Ice-Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions

  1. Heat the maple syrup over medium heat and allow it to simmer until it has reduced to ¾ cup, about 12 minutes (you can use a heat safe measuring cup to measure it’s volume every few minutes). Remove from heat.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and salt in a small bowl for several minutes until a pale yellow color. Transfer to a saucepan and mix in the whole milk.
  3. Cook the egg/milk mixture over medium heat, until almost simmering (the mixture should be thick enough to coat a spoon: when you run your finger through the custard a line should form and not run back into itself). Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a heat safe bowl and then stir in the reduced maple syrup and heavy cream.
  5. Cover the custard and refrigerate overnight.
  6. The following day, churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in the bacon brittle and allow to freeze for 2 hours before enjoying.

From Beginning to End: Journey of the Turkey Bacon 

Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon: Before

Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon: After. Golden brown and sizzling in perfection. Keep your eye on these, because you may lose a few from hungry bystanders!

Light Amber Brittle

The much awaited light amber color of the sugar. Patience is required.

Bacon Brittle

Bacon brittle all chopped up. Snacking: Optional.

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

The bowl that makes all your effort worth it. Make this Maple Bacon Brittle Ice-cream recipe for a bowl that you’ll never forget!

What’s the weirdest ice-cream flavor you have ever made or tasted?

Little Black Dress Fondant Cake

little black dress cake

Yes. ANOTHER fondant cake. These cakes are just so much fun to plan and make. After my last holiday fondant creation, I was ready for more. My best friend was having a little black dress themed party a few days before her wedding and so I insisted on making her a surprise cake. I got to try out a few new techniques on this cake, which I will be using in the future as well. Enjoy the tips!

Few Tips for Fondant Cakes:

1) Stamps. These are the simplest items to have as a final touch on your cake and they are just so lovely. Make sure you are using a stamp that is new so that you do not get any paint or toxic residue onto the fondant. To use the stamp, take a brush and dip it in black gel food coloring. Paint the stamp and practice on scraps of fondant so you can get an idea of the amount of pressure that you would need to apply to get a crisp and clear image.

2) Cookie Cutters. Long gone are the days when I only pulled out my cookie cutters for sugar cookies. There are just so many uses for cookie cutters and cutting fondant is only one of them.

Check out this fun post on Buzzfeed here about 47 different ways to use cookie cutters ranging from gift tags, ornaments, and even fruit salads!

3) Molds. These are super easy to use, because you just push the fondant in the mold and pop it out. The one I used on this little black dress cake could also be used for monograms or a small message. At 2 am in the morning, I had no time to make black icing and so I had to settle for no initials.

4) Ribbons. Any type of ribbon will look beautiful on your cake and will cover the bottom edges if the fondant happens to be uneven or messy there. What I learned with this cake is to use a ribbon that preferable has no sparkles or sprinkles on it that could fall off. I had to keep brushing off the sparkles from the ribbon and a satin ribbon in place would have made it much easier. Ribbons can be easily attached with a few drops of buttercream icing.

5) Fondant Pearls. The most trouble I always have with these is making them all the same size. I found a very helpful tip to help with this common problem, which is to use a very small circle cookie cutter (or a bottle cap, anything circular and small).

little black dress cake

Any tips of your own that you have found helpful for dealing with fondant cakes?

 

Holiday Themed Fondant Cake

holiday fondant cake

Whenever the holidays start to come around, signups begin for all the holiday potlucks to enjoy at work, school, or even amongst family and friends. Sometimes you get signed up for a dessert at a company you don’t even work at too. Yep, my mom signed me up for her potluck. I didn’t mind, because it was a great stress reliever for finals even though I had two papers to write on the same day. It was also the perfect opportunity too to use these gold edible sprinkles that I have. I ended up making a two-layer chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream icing in between.

The Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe can be found here  on a previous blog post of mine.

holiday fondant cake

Previous recipes where I have used this Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate recipe are below:

hershey's twizzler bites

Hershey Twizzler Bites 

mini chocolate bundt cakes

Chocolate Bundt Cakes: Mini and Normal Versions

Hershey's Chocolate Cakeballs

Hershey’s Winter Themed Cakeballs 

Batman Cake

Batman Fondant Cake 

 

 

 

 

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

There are times when you see something and just have to buy it. Or you may stay thinking about it only to come back hours later to buy it. That was my case with my acorn cookie cutter. I saw it at World Market and figured I would just come back later for it. What happened instead was that I went to a few stores next door and ended up coming back for the cookie cutter before I went home. No regrets. Hakuna Matata.

I loved making these cookies because I didn’t have to use the royal icing, which always takes forever to dry. We were going to visit one of our neighbors before she left for the holidays and so I figured it would be the perfect occasion to use my acorn cookie cutter. Later on, while jogging around my neighborhood I noticed many acorns on the sidewalk and so I picked up a few to use as decor for when I would make these cookies. Enjoy these as they will be the perfect addition on your dessert table for Thanksgiving!

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies 

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups cups finely ground hazelnuts, divided
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces chocolate candy coating/ chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition
  3. Mix in the vanilla and hazelnut extract
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder
  5. Add 1 cup of hazelnuts to the flour mixture
  6. Gradually add this to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until smooth
  7. Add the cream and beat until well-incorporated
  8. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or up till overnight
  9. Preheat the oven to 350° F
  10. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside
  11. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut with your cookie cutter
  12. Place the cookies on the prepared sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned
  13. In a microwavable bowl, melt the chocolate candy coating and dip the top half of the cookies
  14. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of hazelnuts over the top half
  15. Add some chocolate coating to a plastic ziploc bag or piping bag and design as you wish
  16. Store in air-tight container for up to 5 days

Recipe from the All American Cooking magazine

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

 

 

NY Style Cheesecake

This cheesecake almost didn’t happen. The night I had planned to make it for a lunch we were holding the next day, I conveniently forgot where the springform pan’s base was. I sat for a while on Pinterest trying to get inspirations for another dessert to make, but nothing was appealing to me. Once I had the idea to make this cheesecake, I just couldn’t forget it and that was the problem. I tried again, opening every cabinet and looking between pans that the springform base could be hidden in. Just when I was about to call it a night, my mom yelled over to me and there it was in her hand. Apparently it was in our outside refrigerator; an area that I never thought to check. Cheesecake is one of those desserts that is really worth making because the end product never fails to satisfy. Check below to enjoy your own home-made version as well!

new york cheesecake

New York Style Cheesecake

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups crushed graham wafers
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 32 ounces (4 of the 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest  (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Put the wafers in a food processor and blend until they are small crumbs
  2. Pour the crumbs in a bowl and add the 1/4 cup of sugar and melted butter
  3. Spray the springform pan with cooking spray and press the crumbs on the bottom and halfway up the pan
  4. Refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling
  5. Put the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and flour in a mixing bowl and beat until well incorporated (1 minute)
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are blended in
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix so that you do not have any lumps of cream cheese remaining
  8. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat for a minute or until well mixed
  9. Before you pour the filling into your crust, cover the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil (so no water gets in)
  10. Pour the filling into the aluminum wrapped springform pan
  11. Put the springform pan in a large baking dish and fill the dish with water (so the water is halfway up the pan)
  12. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes
  13. Reduce to 250 F and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until only the center is a little wobbly when you shake the pan
  14. Cool and refrigerate overnight and decorate/serve the following day

Tips

  • For the design, I melted semi-sweet chocolate and dipped strawberries in it. For some strawberries, I covered them with chopped almonds and for the others, I dipped them in a ready made strawberry glaze.
  • If you do not have graham wafers (as I did not), be creative and improvise with ANYTHING that you have. I used waffle cones that we had and just put those in the food processor. I have also used animal crackers in the past so anything will work.
  • Baking the cheesecake in a water bath will prevent it cracking because then the outer edge will not bake faster than the center (the hottest the water bath can get is 100 C).
  • Short 1 minute video for how to assemble a water bath here

Recipe modified from ZoomYummy

new york cheesecake

new york cheesecake

 

For more ideas check out some of my past cheesecakes below:

reeses cheesecake

 

pecan cheesecake

 

cheesecake