Saturday, June 12, 2010

Celebratory Cream Puff Tower

(insert message here about my suckage, you can make up your own! interactive blog experience!)

I was excited about last month's Daring Bakers challenge as it was something I actually wanted to make and my family and Joe's family were coming up for graduation so I actually had people to consume it.

And the challenge was... croquembouche! Which is French for... something, I'm sure. It goes like this: make a bunch of cream puffs. Painstakingly assemble cream puffs into pyramid shape with exceedingly hot caramel glue. Decorate with spun sugar, chocolate or the hearts of kittens.

Just checking to see if you were reading.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Cream puffs have been something that I've been itching to make for awhile, just to say, "Ah yes, Margarette, I do make a delightful cream puff. Quite! Shall we do the jitter bug whilst wearing our monocles? What? Of course I will not wear a dress that shows my knees, I'm not a harlot like the hussy next door."

I found that making all the components was pretty easy. I'm not sure what I did to the pastry cream recipe we were given but mine didn't thicken at all and I ended up thickening it quite a bit after I put it in a pastry bag and found that my 'cream' was dribbling all over the floor. Probably my fault though and easily fixed.

Two things were harder than I imagined: filling the cream puffs and assembling the tower. I used the special little pipping tip my sister got me that is long and pointy, like an elephant shrew's nose.

Or like something else long and pointy. But I like elephant shrews. So I used the elephant shrew tip to stab the cream puff and fill it with the pastry cream, but I had trouble 1) simultaneously holding the cream puff while pipping the filling 2) telling when the cream puffs were full and 3) not piercing the entire cream puff or exploding the cream puff by trying to fit a cup of filling into the tablespoon sized puffs. It ended up being a lot easier when my dad helped by holding the cream puffs and telling me when the cream puffs felt full by when they expanded in his hand.

Assembling the tower was easy enough but assembling it to look like an actual pyramid and not a blob of cream puffs I put together with my eyes closed was harder. I think it would have looked better if I had made tons of teensy cream puffs but I'm lazy, what can I say. I decided to distract from my pyramid-blob by drizzling chocolate over it and decorating it with the hearts of kittens. I mean, flowers.

It tasted lovely though it still didn't get entirely consumed as we were busy and moving. Not sure I would have a reason to make the whole shebang again but I would definitely make cream puffs again.

I won't post the recipes for the entire process but I will post the choux paste recipe used to make the cream puffs because I liked it and it was quite easy.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)


¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.


BUT WAIT, BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Joe and I will be traveling through Europe for the next two months and Joe will be blogging about our adventures here:

So I expect you all to take note and follow like the good minions that you are.

I plan on taking pictures of delicious things and blogging about them here as well. BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! I also already completed the Daring Bakers Challenge for this month so watch for that the end of this month. Ta ta!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Communist free baked goods

I'm still alive! I suck, but I'm alive! Unfortunately I will continue my streak as World's Worst Blogger a little longer-- Joe and I just finished moving out of our apartment and are now driving across the country back to Alaska. So there won't be any blogging while Joe and I drive through Canada, unless you're interested in some delicious lichen pie.

Side note: I find lichen jokes hilarious. (For the lichen naive-- poor souls-- think teeny bits of moss that grows in the tundra.) I have fond memories of working at the candy store during Christmas eve where I wore festive reindeer antlers attached to a headband. I was high on Christmas spirit and gummi bears and expressed this by pretending the antlers were transforming me into a reindeer. I would casually mention to my coworkers that I had a hankering for some lichen and pranced about in a way I imagined reindeer would.

So to answer the question: how do you survive serving crazy customers all day? BE CRAZIER THAN THEY ARE.

So anyway. Approximately nine million years ago I made some gluten free baked goods for my nurse preceptor. Basically she taught me how to do her job recovering kids from anesthesia after surgery and then made sure I didn't kill anybody, to which I was very grateful.

I always wanted to bring in baked goods for my coworkers but it felt cruel to bring in cookies or cake that my mentor couldn't eat. Thanks for all your help, here are some delicious baked goods that you are incapable of digesting! So for my last day I decided to bring in gluten-free treats.

Sprinkles: fighting communism since... 19...whatsit.

My first plan was to buy some gluten-free flour and attempt to use a gluten-free recipe. Then I caught Joe's Flu of Death and the thought of moving from the apartment made me want to die. So I had to improvise and make 'accidentally gluten-free' baked goods with ingredients I had on hand. The first thing that came to mind were meringues. Egg whites and sugar. Bake. Viola. Except you should probably whip them first, okay? I did two batches: vanilla and chocolate.

I used a pipping bag for the first time for shaping the meringues and they turned out very pretty. The chocolate ones didn't hold their shape and instead turned into marbled discs but it sort of appeared that I did that on purpose so... win!

Meringue Cookies Recipe:

3 large egg whites (3 ounces or 90 grams)


tsp cream of tartar

3/4 cup (150 grams) superfine or caster sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar simply take granulated white sugar and process it for about 30 seconds in a food processor) --- I used "regular" sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (105 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can form the cookies with a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) plain tip, or I often just use two spoons to make the cookies.

In the bowl of your mixer

, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.

Before placing the cookies on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) tip. Pipe 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) rounds of meringue in rows on the prepared baking sheet. Alternatively, spoon mounds of meringue, using two spoons, onto the prepared sheets. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a few shaved almonds, if desired.

Bake the meringues for approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about half way through) to ensure even baking. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp. Turn off the oven, open the door a crack, and leave the meringues in the oven to finish drying overnight.

I loved the way these tasted, I used homemade vanilla extract in the vanilla meringues and it made a huge difference. The cocoa ones were not as delicious perhaps but regardless I kept finding myself munching on them. I could not put my finger on what they tasted like until it dawned on me that they taste like Cocoa Puffs. Which is not a bad thing at all, who doesn't secretly like Cocoa Puffs? Communists, that's who.

Maybe its the eight hours of driving a day but I'm finding communist jokes HILARIOUS right now.

Since meringues are so easy, I felt obligated to make something else. I remembered making a peanut butter cookie recipe a few years ago that consisted only of peanut butter, eggs and sugar. That's it. They're a bit weird but they work-- they're a bit more like a crisp peanut butter candy but again, does that not sound delicious? I modified the recipe a bit and though they came out a little ugly and I was ashamed of their ugliness, my mentor LOVED them. These would not be my go to peanut butter cookie recipe but it's a good one to have in your baking arsenal: tasty, freakishly easy, and intensely peanut buttery. Who wouldn't like that? COMMUNISTS.

1-2-3 PB cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup plain sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix peanut butter, sugars, and egg together in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and salt and stir until combined. After all the ingredients have been combined, roll the peanut butter mixture into 1 inch balls.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press down with a fork. Once the oven has pre-heated, put the cookies in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.


In the end, my mentor loved everything. Or she is a very good liar. She also ended up bringing me home baked peanut butter cookies on the same day, which I thought was very cute. They were tasty, which is saying something since I still had the Flu of Death and anything other than Gatorade made me dry heave in a corner.

In an awkward conclusion, love you Nancy!

Still navigating through the Canadian arctic/cities/highways, back soon with some lichen pie!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The other day Katie said, "Hey, remember when you had a blog?" to which I said, "Hey, remember when you shut your face?" Just kidding. But although my camera has mysteriously disappeared, probably to the same place where all my bobby pins go to, I do have some pictures loaded of past baked goods so I really have no good excuse not to update now that I'm finished with class. I guess I can break my Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon with some pics.

I've been pining to make homemade oreos for awhile now, for no good reason other than my brain latches onto strange things. Which is probably how I ended up with two certifiably insane chinchillas.

One reason I put off making oreos until now was because I didn't think I could achieve the black color oreo cookies have that make them seriously off putting to those with braces. And because I am crazy, I did not want to make them if they were not the appropriate color. But then I did some shopping at the baking store King Arthur with a gift certificate I had (thanks Elrita!) and picked up some of this:

... black cocoa! The stuff is intense, you supplement regular cocoa with this stuff and it makes baked goods extra dark and extra chocolately. Let the oreo party commence.

I used this recipe for the cookies and it worked fine. Because I'm lazy and hate to roll out cookie dough, I rolled the cookie dough into a log, chilled it, and cut off rounds instead. Way easier. For the centers, I used my favorite buttercream recipe and flavored part with vanilla and part with raspberry jam. The only downside of this frosting is that it melts really easily, since it is essentially 99% butter (and 100% delicious because of it). So I kept the cookies refrigerated and would probably consider making a different filling if I were to do it again. But they did taste delicious! The consensus of deliciousness went to the cookies with vanilla filling -- people like tradition.

See? Melty. Whatever, people liked them. I brought them to a bar to share with friends, though it took me about 10 minutes to find them in my purse. My purse is a black hole and recently I lost my phone for an entire week in the depths of it. I wish I was kidding.

Monday, March 1, 2010

White chocolate raspberry cupcakes of divine greatness

Near Christmas I was at my aunt's house and stumbled upon this book on her coffee table:

Naturally, I started flipping through it and I was immediately taken back with all the delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. Apricot upside down cake. Hazelnut gooey brownies. Chocolate strawberry cake. I had been denied all these delicious calories without knowing!

I immediately inquired about the book and was told it was from a cake shop in South Africa, where my aunt and uncle used to live. Crushing news. I figured it was for the best since the recipes used the metric system and I can't follow regular recipes without occasionally forgetting key steps like, oh say adding sugar to pumpkin pie. In case you were wondering, unsweetened pumpkin does taste exactly like soil. And soil pie wasn't exactly what I was going for.

I put the cookbook out of my mind until Christmas, when I received it as a present from my grandparents, who also live in South Africa. I encourage you all to acquire some South African grandparents so you too can receive cool South African cake books. You may also be so lucky as to befriend your tech savvy grandpa on facebook and read his status updates about how grandma was stalked by a baboon that day.

I don't know if it was more shocking that my grandma. Was stalked. BY A BABOON!! IN AFRICA!! Or is it more horrifying that my grandpa. IS ON FACEBOOK!!! AND WE ARE FRIENDS!!

Anyway. My first logical excuse to make some shmancy baked goods was Valentine's Day, when white chocolate cupcakes with smashed berry frosting was most appropriate.

And they went over resoundingly well. I manged not to run into any problems converting the metric recipe, although according to my calculations my oven was supposed to be at something like 353.27 degrees Fahrenheit. Joe declared them the best cupcakes ever in the histories of all things cupcake, so let it be known, amen.

I think the kicker here was the frosting, which was basically mascarpone cheese (a bit like cream cheese) mashed raspberries and a touch of powdered sugar. I tend to prefer cream cheese-like frosting over American buttercream so I loved this.

I decided not to participate in the Daring Baker's February challenge of homemade tiramisu because I wasn't really feeling it-- I'm not a huge tiramisu person and I couldn't justify going through the laborious process when I couldn't think of anybody who would eat. I did decide to do one aspect of the challenge, however, which was to make your own mascarpone-like cheese at home. It's really easy, actually. And the stuff tends to be expensive at the store so why not? Here it is:

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.


It really was a breeze, the only thing is you need to start it the day before you need it, which I'm rarely good about. But makes an excellent frosting: I added about a cup of raspberries and powdered sugar to taste and it was glorious. Too thin to be pipped but a messy chic cupcake has its place too.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coconut Christmas

Are you guys ready to read more about things I baked 9 million years ago? Excellent!

In December I was agonizing over what to get Joe's family for Christmas/Hanukkah/Christmaskah. At the same time I was mulling over what to make for my mom's nontraditional Christmas dinner. I was considering making a coconut cream pie for the dinner and randomly asked Joe if his dad happened to like coconut cream pie. "Oh, coconut cream pie? That's one of his favorites!" A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. OR HANUKKAH MIRACLE. INTER-RELIGIOUS MIRACLE.

So I revised my plans and decided to make two coconut cream pies. I eventually decided upon a coconut cream pie recipe by Emeril that used coconut milk in addition to shredded coconut to make the coconuty pie filling. Extra coconuty goodness? Yes please.

I was hesitant to make my own pie crusts, as my making pie crusts highly correlates with an emotional breakdown. But I did it anyway! Because what is better is more appropriate during the holidays than a nice, long nervous breakdown?

Best Ever Coconut Cream Pie from


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 (9-inch) baked pie shell, recipe follows
  • 1/3 cup toasted coconut
  • Whipped cream, for garnish


In a nonstick 1-quart saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, coconut milk, and 1 cup milk. Scald mixture.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch together to make a slurry. Whisk egg yolks with salt in medium bowl. Temper yolks by adding 1/2 cup scaled milk mixture to yolks and whisk well. Add yolk mixture and slurry back into milk mixture and whisk vigorously over medium heat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add coconut, vanilla, and butter. Whisk until uniformly incorporated.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Chill the pie completely, about 2 hours.

To serve, top with toasted coconut and a dollop of whipped cream.

Pie shell:

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

6 to 7 tablespoons ice cold water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add the shortening and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water and let sit 1 minute. Either using a fork or your hands, carefully press the mixture together to form a soft ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Gently fold the circle of dough in half and then in half again so that you can lift it without tearing it, and unfold into a 9-inch by 2-inch deep-dish pie pan. Crimp the edges and chill again for 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake pie shell until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before using.


But I actually had the easiest time with this pie crust. I think a large part of this was because my mom doesn't own a large food processor, which I normally use to make pie crusts, and I was forced to do it by hand. Maybe this prevented me from over mixing the dough or something? Whatever it was, I did not want to kill somebody when I was finished. The crust was in no way attractive but everybody in the immediate family survived so I considered that a success.

Another bonus to making pie on Christmas was that the oven was on for hours and hours, which is quite useful when your mom's heaters decide to fail in the depths of the Alaskan winter. I came home from school and thought, "We have no heat and our vicious dog is attempting to eat the neighbors? What is this, a Charles Dickens novel?"

Because everything I touch magically doubles, I somehow came out with way too much of the coconut filling, I probably had enough to fill like three pies. Huh. I had no choice but to leave the remainder in mom's fridge where it would taunt her silently. Haha. Mu haha. MWA HAHAHA.

Anyway. I was pleased with how this turned out, I think the coconut milk made it especially good. Even though my pie crust skillz are quite as good as I would like them to be, the crust still tasted good. But really, in pies like these its all about the filling, baby. And it was quite good.

Next up: something that I actually made THIS MONTH. I know, crazy right?! Its almost like I try to keep a blog about baking!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sticky toffee pudding. I mean cake. I mean pudding.

So umm, wanna talk about Christmas? Good. Because that is when I last took pictures of baked goods. I am the world's greatest blogger! Good thing I'm not a parent, the kids would be all, "Hey mom, can I have breakfast?" and I'd be like yeah sure! ... and then I would get distracted and forget about it for two months.

My family had its big ol' Christmas dinner on Christmas eve and I was recruited to make dessert. I wanted to make something new but couldn't decide what to make. Joe suggested sticky toffee pudding which sounded perfect and sorta festive.

I've been to England a couple time now and was pretty familiar with sticky toffee pudding. My dad took my brother and I on a trip to England and Germany when I was 14 and I quickly learned that British cooking is... how do you say... atrocious. After several meals I settled on living on baked potatoes as that was the one thing even the English couldn't manipulate to taste like shoes.

British desserts fared a lot better, though maybe only because I was blinded by sugar. But British desserts were puzzling. I was very confused the first time I ordered a sticky toffee pudding and was served a gooey cake, not pudding. Were the English so deranged that they did not know that pudding was supposed to be, well, pudding? They had obviously ruined this pudding as it was quite solid. And so I learned that pudding basically indicates a dessert, not necessarily an actual pudding of the jelloid variety.

Apparently other Americans are not familiar with this phenomenon either, as I encountered while looking for a recipe for sticky toffee pudding. One confused American wrote, "Should this be refrigerated since its a pudding?" If it looks like a cake, tastes like a cake and walks like a cake (in that it does not walk at all) its a cake, lady. No refrigeration necessary.

Another popular British pudding I tried was spotted dick, a dessert I delighted in ordering because it mortified my little brother. Piers was around 10 at the time and the uttering of 'spotted dick' sent him into a blind panic. He would wail, "Stop SAYING that!" and my dad and I would say, "What, Piers? You don't want us to say SPOTTED DICK? Whats wrong with SPOTTED DICK, eh? Don't you want to eat some SPOTTED DICK?" And then we would laugh and laugh and Piers would say something about wanting to go home. I'm not sure, I wasn't really listening.

Sticky Toffee Pudding from


  • 12 ounces dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) softened, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Butterscotch sauce, recipe follows:
  • 2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon brandy
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with parchment or waxed paper.

Combine the dates and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and gradually stir in the baking soda (it will foam up), and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar to the butter, and cream until fluffy. Without stopping the mixer, add 2 of the eggs and mix until combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/3 of the dates and mix until combined. Repeat until all the flour mixture and the dates are incorporated into the batter. Pour into the baking pan and bake about 40 minutes, until firm and set in the center. Let cool in the pan. When cool, turn out of the pan onto a baking sheet and peel off the parchment paper. The recipe can be made through this step up to 2 days in advance.

Butterscotch Sauce: Combine the brown sugar, butter, half-and-half, and brandy in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 3 minutes, until combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

When ready to serve pudding, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the sauce evenly over the top of the cake. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and cake is heated through, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream into soft peaks with the mixer. Cut the cake into squares and serve with whipped cream.


So. About the cake. Or pudding. Or whatever. I was disappointed with how it turned out but I think that's mostly my fault. I overcooked the cake and the toffee sauce and it would've been a lot better if I hadn't screwed it up, oops. Never the less, it was still pretty good, especially with whipped cream. And my little cousin ate enough of it to satiate him for days so at least its elementary school approved.

And note: the last time I went to England a couple years ago, the food had vastly improved and my diet consisted of more than potatoes. In fact, when we were stranded in the farmland in the middle of nowhere, I spent the majority of my time eating and trying not to die of allergies. But that's another story!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nuts for Maple Pecan Biscotti

Howdy, cupcake-ettes. I am alive and back to daily life. I made some goodies over Christmas break that I need to share so lets get started. I'm feeling lazy so this will be short.

Biscotti are a great holiday gift because they're easy and last forever-- they're already stale after all. Biscotti are also really easy to customize so I decided to make a maple pecan version for some gifts. I love maple flavored things, especially those maple leaf candies that are basically a solidified version of maple syrup. It's a quick and convenient way to acquire cavities.

Unfortunately maple is a pretty delicate flavor and these weren't as maple-y as I would have liked. I was going for more of a maple flavor explosion and I got more of a touch of maple. Regardless I was happy of the outcome. They were lightly sweet and nutty. I did try to add a maple glaze to up the maple explosion factor but whenever I added maple syrup to powdered sugar it tasted weirdly metallic. As if I had intended to make a maple flavored robot. Which was not what I was going for. So I skipped that and brushed the biscottis with maple syrup after they baked instead.

I didn't toast the pecans I added, mostly because I burned the first batch and was too lazy to toast another so I just added raw pecans. I'm sure they would be good with toasted pecans but the untoasted pecans were better than expected and added some chew. I love when my laziness pays off.


2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
¾ cup maple syrup


1. Sift first dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
2. Whisk sugar and eggs in a large bowl to a light lemon color; stir in vanilla extract, maple flavoring and maple syrup. Sift dry ingredients over egg mixture, then fold in until dough is just combined.
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Using floured hands, quickly stretch dough into a rough 13-by-2-inch log, placing them on the cookie sheet. Pat dough shape to smooth it. Bake, turning pan once, until loaf is golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes.
4. Cool the loaf for 10 minutes; lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cut each loaf diagonally into 3/8-inch slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1/2-inch apart on the cookie sheet, cut side up, and return them to the oven. Bake, turning over each cookie halfway through baking, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer biscotti to wire rack and cool completely. Brush tops with maple syrup and let dry. Biscotti can be stored in an airtight container for at least 1 month.

Laziness at peak level so that's all. Coming up: coconut cream pie, sticky toffee pudding.