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Baking Tip: Avoiding a Messy Kitchen

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. strawberry napoleon 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!

 

18. August 2014 by Molly
Categories: baking tips | Leave a comment

Baking Tip: Bread & Kneading!

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.

Kneaded Bread Dough

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!

 

04. August 2014 by Molly
Categories: baking tips | Leave a comment

What’s Up in Tejas!

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

 

 

 

30. July 2014 by Molly
Categories: Uncategorized | 2 comments

Baking Tips: Brrr!

Tips Tips, Tips and Tricks! One tip every Monday!

This week’s tip/trick/handy to know is…. Use that Freezer! Another tip I picked up at my stage at La Fabrique a Gateaux. The pastries we made were composed of several different components that would be assembled to make the final product. We would make each component in bulk, freeze them, and then each night pull out the amount that was needed for the next day, and depending on the product assemble them the night before while they were still frozen or the next morning.

Freezer

Now- this isn’t exactly how it applies in a home kitchen. Use your freezer to quickly cool something down- for example, making sugar cookies, I will put the cut, ready to bake cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes before sticking them in the oven to help keep their shape. Or if a soft cookie dough needs to chill before being formed, I’ll stick it in the freezer wrapped in plastic and pushed into a rectangle that’s about 1 inch thick and suddenly your hour to two hours turns into 15-20 minutes. Or here’s one more scenario, making cream puffs quickly in the morning, the choux pastry was too hot to fill, popped in the freezer for 5 minutes and they’re good to go! No melted cream! Ah that brings to mind another way you can use the freezer/fridge, cooling down melted butter or chocolate- just be careful to not leave it in too long or you’ll have to start all over- 2 minutes then check it!

**Don’t be fooled! The Freezer is not going to kill your flavor but pack it in. I will throw something that I made in the freezer the day I made it if I know we won’t be eating it for two days. It’s great for planning ahead too. If I’m making a tart, I’ll make smaller tart shells from the left over pieces, bake them off and they’re ready to be filled at a moments notice. Did I make a few too many cupcakes? In the freezer for a last minute birthday party or house guest.

The freezer is your friend!

 

Have a tip? Let me know in the comments or by email at toffeebitsandchocolatechips (at) gmail.com. I’d love to feature you in an upcoming post!

 

 

28. July 2014 by Molly
Categories: baking tips | Leave a comment

Baking Tips: Chocolate Ganache

Our Baking Tip Series continues with a tip from my culinary school friend- Tina! aka Tina Beana!! Miss you and your whisking style! ;-)

Use a spatula or small whisk to mix chocolate ganache! Chocolate ganache is one of the best things in the world. Creamy, chocolaty, and oh just fantastic. You can use it to fill macaroons or sandwich cookies, drizzle on top of cakes or ice cream, as icing on a cake, or use a whole lot of it and fill an entire tart.

chocolate ganache tart

There are several different recipes- the easiest to remember is half heavy whipping cream and half chocolate of your choice broken into small pieces. The best way is to do this by weight. For example, 200g heavy whipping cream and 200g bittersweet chocolate.

To make the ganache, heat the cream until just simmering and pour over the pieces of chocolate. I will let mine sit for just a second (about 10 to be more exact) to allow the chocolate to start melting. Then start mixing the two together. There are a couple ways of doing it but the most important thing to remember is to avoid air bubbles! Tina suggests using a spatula because it’s a lot easier to avoid that whipping action that’s so fun to do with a whisk. I like using a small whisk- just no whipping! Move the whisk or spatula in small circles around the parameter of the bowl, moving the bowl as you go. The chocolate and cream will start coming together, first as streaks, it might even look curdled, then as a smooth mass. The important part here is to not overdue it. Once there are no chunks of chocolate left, you’re done!

Now’s the point though where you have to decide what you want to do with your ganache. Use asap if you want a smooth finish, ie if you’re filling a tart like the one above or glazing something. Or stick it in the fridge, or just leave at room temperature, and as it cools, the ganache will thicken enough to use as an icing, filling, or several other things!

Well……………… actually, here’s another tip, let it cool in the fridge, up your cream content a bit (or not!) and whip it! Go for it! For a fantastic, killer, chocolate whipped cream! you heard me! I piped this on top of mini chocolate cheesecakes and then sprinkled grated chocolate on top. To make it even easier, make the chocolate ganache in the bowl you’re going to whip it in. This can be done by hand or in a mixer with a whisk attachment.

chocolate cheesecake

Ready for a triple pointer! Add espresso powder to the cream for a chocolate coffee ganache… Pow!

Let me know your great baking tips! I would love to feature them on my blog!

 

 

 

21. July 2014 by Molly
Categories: baking tips, chocolate | Leave a comment

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