oh caramel- I love thee as much as I love chocolate and the two of you, just .. oo la la! Horrible for my waistline.
This week’s tip comes from my friend and fellow avid baker…….. drumroll!….. Tina!!!!! This was something important that we learned while making the St. Honore cake at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Just imagine lots of cream, puff pastry, circled with cream puffs dipped in caramel and you’re there. In heaven.
Caramel used to scare me but after you make it a bajillion times, you find there was nothing really to be scared of in the first place.
There are all different ways of making caramel: Dry with just sugar (oh yes!), sugar/butter/cream, sugar/cream, a pinch of salt and some vanilla here and there, and even with a ton of milk and sugar and then letting it simmer away until the two caramelize.
What applies to all! Tina’s tip: Take caramel off the heat before it reaches your desired color! For the St. Honore we actually took the caramel off the heat maybe a couple seconds after it started turning a beautiful caramel color. It was light, but the color will continue to develop in the pot after you take it off the heat.
Here’s another interesting tip: Going for a deep caramel? The point of no return caramel? Well, there actually is a point of no return. Watch it very very carefully and you will see a very thin string of smoke come up. A couple seconds more and you have burned caramel, or you’ve added the cream as soon as you saw the smoke, it’s bubbled up and you have an awesome dark thick caramel. You might have also added in a little chocolate too at this point that melted as you stirred it into the caramel. whoa I’ll stop! drooling.
Got a tip? I’d love to hear it! Leave it in the comments below or send me a message and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post!
Yesterday I was over at my friend Peter’s house teaching his kids Sophie and Abby how to bake! We made the nearing celebrity status browned butter brownies, pastry crust, and then folded together whipped cream and a lime curd I’d made the day before to make a delicious berry/lime tart. yum! oh and Frozen was on in French in the background. It was pretty great. :-D
Peter made this video and I’m kinda disappointed that he didn’t include us spinning around in circles and jumping up and down. hahaha Love it! Had such a great time with these kiddos!
I’ve got this little series going on called Baking Tips! If you’ve got a tip, let me know! I’d love to feature it.
Today’s Tip of the Day!
Use your tools/bowls wisely. There’s nothing more fun than baking- including a massive mound of dishes afterwards. Sometimes it can’t be avoided but there are a lot of times where you can use that same measuring spoon or bowl multiple times. My favorite is using one large liquid measuring cup to measure all my liquids. Does it call for melted butter? Melt it in the liquid measuring cup, then add any other liquids in that same cup on top (maybe it’s 1/2 cup of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla and an egg). What just happened here? I probably saved using a bowl to melt my butter, another bowl to crack the egg, and a liquid measuring cup to measure the milk.
A way to save even more bowls- go metric! Your baking experience will be forever changed. No measuring spoons! Measure all the dry ingredients in session. No need to lift the bowl and restart, or add up in your head when to stop for the next ingredient. Just hit Tare to zero it out and start measuring!
Our bread expert is back! And this time Ian Chin of the Baking Chin is talking about Kneading bread!
And here it is…. drumrollll…… today’s tip!
Smooth, Springy dough makes for a well Kneaded dough! This takes about 6-10 minutes by hand and 4-7 minutes by machine. The dough will look smooth on top and elastic, bouncing back when touched.
Bonus Tip! When kneading, don’t add extra flour! Instead, if needed use a little oil or water (Ian uses a water spray gun). The dough might stick at first but will come together and pull away from the surface you’re working on. This also helps develop gluten!
The perfect white bread recipe? Ian’s got you covered!
Do you have a tip? Share it in the comments below or send me an email at toffeebitsandchocolatechips (at) gmail.com!
Qu’est-ce qui se passe au Texas? I haven’t been writing too many personal blog posts lately! You’ll know fairly soon why…. To recap- I’ve been back in the US since mid-March, about 4 1/2 months now. Just crazy! It seems like it’s been so much longer. I’ve actually wanted to write so many blog posts about this and haven’t. They’ve been started and then dismissed, thinking maybe this is something I didn’t want to share. But it weighs on me almost every day. Re-acclimation is hard. Not as hard as going to a completely new country and starting a life in a new language. But really difficult. The plus about going somewhere new is the intrigue- everything is new and interesting, the culture has it’s quirks that you end up loving, there’s new things to see and do, and the list goes on. Returning? Obviously there’s the highs of seeing friends and family, ugh and my Nut (oh how I missed him!!!!!). And just mention Mexican food! Je l’adore! mais! It’s so easy to fall back as things were. Even though a year has passed, maybe some new restaurants have popped up, road construction has changed the route to work a bit, and there are lots of new people to meet- but otherwise, it’s just as I left it. It’s comforting, easy, but also difficult because I’ve changed so much in the past year.
Here’s the silly thing, what boggled my mind the most on one of the first days coming home? Well besides the sudden change back to my mother tongue? I was super excited to visit Target. Don’t judge! I LOVE Target. But when I got there, the people handing out samples got on my nerves! The sheer amount of choice threw me for a loop and the size of the shampoo bottles… God-send. You mean I don’t have to go to the store every 2-3 weeks to buy shampoo? ahh!!! It was weird little things. I wanted to walk more. I loved my reusable grocery bags that fit in my purse. It seemed that everyone was always wearing workout clothes. Noise levels were louder. But really that lasted just a week before things were back as they were.
But oh do I miss France. The cheese. The people. The pastries. The history. The walking! The language. Nibbling on a baguette.
I was describing to my mom the difference between American and French desserts the other day. Americans, we love simple straightforward things- give me a chocolate chip cookie and I’m happy! The French, they love the surprise, the indulgence when going for a treat. Layers upon layers of flavors. A pocket of something or other hidden inside of something else. A crunch here or there. Differences. I love both. I’ll always be on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, but in my mind I’ll be thinking of an elaborate mousse concoction.
Caught between two worlds. Something that I guess just happens after you’ve lived in another culture and one that you identify with so much. Is it bad? no. But confusing and there’s always a pull to be in one culture or the other.
So I’ve kept busy. Crazy busy. Keep my mind off things busy. I have far too many jobs. Five to be exact.
How is that even possible?! I work my desk job 2.5 days per week, at a cheese shop (yay cheese!) 1 day every weekend or so, and at a bakery Wednesday and Friday. I’m also taking custom orders (I have three this week) and working as needed for catering and such at a B&B (I delivered granola bars for the city mayor’s retreat this morning!!!). My goal is to learn as much as possible, bake a crazy amount, and keep my ears open for ways to return to France long term or short-term. And Jess and Vincent would probably appreciate it if I eventually picked up the four bags of clothes and things I left at their apartment. :-D
Have something you’d like me to talk about on the blog? Let me know! toffeebitsandchocolatechips(at)gmail.com!
Merci a vous et bon fin de semaine!
**Je prends les cours de français aussi maintenant, y compris un classe de littérature. Le professer a leur demandé -on a écrié un poème! – j’ai choisi écrire un poème d’aubergine. hahaha! Pour quoi pas! haha Bien- c’était mon premier mot en francais outre “bonjour” etc. :-D Un petit histoire pour vous. :-D haha