Ho Ho Ho! One of my favorite things about Christmas is the.. cookies! This weekend we made 2 batches of cookies, 1 batch of brownies, and 3 kinds of candy! Check out the Ugly Christmas Sweater Gingerbread men I decorated last night. I love this Gingerbread Cookie Recipe! It’s chewy, takes only 15 minutes to make, and has a wonderful amount of spice. And here’s a great idea from the pastry shop I used to work at in Paris: decorate stars as snowflakes!
The Buche de Noel is a traditional French cake served around Christmas. Sponge cake rolled up and decorated like a log, it’s delicious and a lot of fun to make as a family. My favorite part… the meringue mushrooms. This recipe has an espresso mascarpone cream on the inside… yum!
Fudge is a classic around the holidays. How about trying this Salted Nutella Fudge… what??! For those of you who have a nutella problem- you know the one where the jar of nutella happens to disappear approximately a day after you bought it- well this one is for you!
And then there’s these cookies: Chocolate Crinkles. We’ve been making them in our family for YEARS. The worst (or maybe the best part) is that the dough has to chill for at least an hour before rolling it in balls and then in powdered sugar. The wait makes for a perfect time to just you know ensure that it’s being chilled properly. It can’t be too soft and the only way to tell uh hum is by tasting it!
This is a fun neat trick. Pick up some Jolly Ranchers at the store to make Stained Glass Christmas Tree Cookies. Place crushed up pieces inside cut outs in cookie dough. These will melt to form stained glass when baked!
I do love Gingerbread- so much that it’s on here twice. Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. They’re so tasty and look beautiful.
A few more that can’t be missed:
– Candy Bar Cookies (Chocolate, Caramel, Pecans, Shortbread!)
Merry Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! and Happy Baking!
It’s two sweet potato recipes in a row! This one because of an amazing breakfast in Kansas City I had last weekend and the fresh eggs and mushrooms I got from the market yesterday. This recipe is for one lucky person for breakfast, lunch, or dinner- and great to throw in the oven while you’re doing other things. Just don’t forget to stir it every once and awhile.
It’s delicious, savory, and healthy!
Sweet Potato Hash (for 1~)
1/4 cup sliced onion, then cut in large chunks
3 cremini mushrooms, de-stemmed and cut in fourths
1 spring thyme, chopped
2 sage leaves, chopped
1/2 medium sweet potato, cut in sticks
1 garlic clove, minced
Preheat oven to 425F degrees. In a cast iron skillet, saute the onion in olive oil. Stir in all other ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to the oven. Bake 30 minutes, stirring ever so often. Hash is done when sweet potatoes are cooked through and crispy on the edges.
Top with a fried or poached egg!
Risotto is one of those dishes you make with love. It takes a little time, you have to be attentive, and when it comes together it’s so comforting and delicious on a cold day. This one is pretty simple, it’s your typical risotto but vamped up with bacon, herbs and pureed sweet potato!
Risotto is pretty easy to make on a whim if you have the basic ingredients. You want a short grained rice (Arborio is best), chicken or vegetable broth, your seasonings and some Parmesan. It’s also a great recipe to get used to the “a little of this, a little of that” cooking style which is incredibly hard for me since I’m so used to working with exact measurements in baking. The process is the same for all risottos. Start by putting your chicken broth over heat on the stove. I’ll usually work with about 4 cups, which is the large container sold in stores. Then, saute chopped onions or shallots in melted butter, add a little garlic (if you’d like), then the rice, stirring to toast it. The grains will turn translucent. A easy rule of thumb is a handful of rice per person. We’re going freestyle here, so get a little crazy and grab that wine bottle. A good splash or two or three is all you need. White wine is best. You can do red wine- but you’ll end up with purple risotto, eh which might be fun at a monster mash.
Now you get to the arm exercise portion of this recipe. Add a ladle of chicken broth and start stirring. Don’t stop! When it has been absorbed by the rice, add another. Keep going until you’re about 4-5 ladles in. At this point give it a quick taste test. If the rice is still hard, keep adding more liquid. If it’s soft, you’re ready to move on!
I found this recipe on How Sweet Eats and made it one cold night with an Audrey Hepburn movie on TV. I roasted cubed sweet potatoes in the oven and pushed them through a ricer to make a puree which was stirred into the cooked risotto. I also finely chopped a small handful of a mixture of herbs- basil, thyme, oregano, and sage. And I might have thrown some chopped bacon on the stove and crisped it up as a garnish. :-D
You can also add cooked chicken, shrimp, a mixture of spring veggies, mushrooms or all sorts of things. Usually the add ins are cooked and then added once the risotto is creamy. A drizzle of truffle oil on top is always amazing. :-)
Sweet Potato & Bacon Risotto
Adapted from How Sweet Eats.
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot or 1/4 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 1/3 cups dry white wine (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons brown butter
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs: sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil (use a mixture of what you have)
Preheat oven to 400F. Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl and add the nutmeg, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Stir to coat then pour out onto a baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes (or until potatoes are fork tender) tossing every 10 minutes or so. Allow to cool slightly the mash with a fork or in a ricer.
Let’s get the other things ready that you’ll need. For the browned butter, place 2 tablespoons in a small saucepan and heat over medium to high until brown bits start to form on the bottom. It will sputter then foam and you’ll start to see the brown bites in the foam. As soon as that happens take it off the heat and set aside. For the bacon, chop uncooked bacon into small stripes, saute until very brown and crispy (almost all of the fat will cook away). Drain and pour on top of a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
Put the chicken or vegetable stock in a small sauce pan on the stove and heat over medium.
In a medium saucepan, saute the shallot in 2 tablespoons of butter. Once translucent add the garlic cooking for 30 seconds or so. Stir in the rice, toasting it in the butter. It will turn slightly translucent (2-3 minutes). Pour in the wine and stir until it’s absorbed. Then start adding the broth one ladle at a time continuously stirring and waiting for the rice to completely absorb it before adding the next ladle.
Taste test the rice after 4 or so broth additions when it starts to look creamier. The rice should not be crunchy at all. If it is, keep adding broth and trying it to get to the right texture. Next, stir in the sweet potato puree, brown butter, and herbs (I reserved some herbs for to garnish). Spoon into bowls and top with the bacon, maybe a little extra parmesan, and herbs. :-)
I’m totally on a root vegetable kick. Pumpkin tarts, sweet potato risotto, and a butternut squash just waiting to be roasted and made into soup. Fall is in the air!
Last week I was on the hunt for a torch. We’re talking a mega torch for singeing things like meringue or warming up the bowl of a mixer to get butter to room temperature faster. I’d say a torch, mixer, whisk, zester and a spatula are the top tools I use in the kitchen. Luckily my lemon tarts have been topped with a mix of whipped cream and lemon curd instead of meringue lately but boy had I been missing one!
I did a bit of research and after visits to Target, Walmart (ugh I hate Walmart), and William Sonoma and lots of blank stares, I had a chat with my chef. Now, I always knew hardware stores were a pastry chefs best friend, and had even called one up but I guess confused the lady too much to get a straight answer but my chef confirmed that they have small butane torches!!!!! For as low as $14! This is the one I got from Home Depot. I’ve been feeling like a major badass using it, so almost every recipe I’ve made since getting it has involved something being torched. tehehe
Which brings me to the desert of this post: Mini Pumpkin S’mores Tarts! A graham cracker crust filled with pumpkin custard then topped with a layer of chocolate ganache and a mile high mound of meringue.
They’re kind of amazing- creamy, marshmallowy, and then a great hit from the chocolate. There are a bunch of steps that go into this dessert, but they’re all not hard and the end result is totally worth it.
I found this recipe over at How Sweet Eats and turned them mini and simplified a couple of the steps. To speed it up a bit, I used mini graham cracker crusts that I found at the store already made. Pretty snazzy, eh? And just under $3 for 6!
Pumpkin S’Mores Tarts
Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats.
This can be made as one large pie, or 6 small!
My apologies- half of this recipe is in cups, the other half in metric. Mostly because the easiest way for me to do ganache and Italian Meringue is in metric: Ganache is half chocolate, half whipped cream by weight. Italian Meringue: double the weight of the egg whites in sugar plus a little water.
Graham Cracker Crust:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache (see note above):
100 g chocolate chopped
100 g heavy whipping cream
Italian Meringue Whipped Topping (see note above):
100g egg whites
200g granulated sugar
Let’s get started! If you are not using premade graham cracker crusts, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter and press into a tart pan with a removable bottom. Chill.
For the custard, whip together the mascarpone and cream cheese in an electric mixer. Add the pumpkin puree and condensed milk. Then add the vanilla and powdered sugar and spices. Pour into the prepared crusts making sure to leave a little room for the ganache. Chill.
Moving on to the Ganache! Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the heavy whipping cream until it just starts to boil. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 15 seconds or so for the chocolate to start melting (don’t wait too long, you want the chocolate to still be pretty hot when you pour it over the custard). Using a whisk, make small circular motions around the sides, moving toward the center. The chocolate and cream will magically come together in an awesome mass of chocolaty goodness. Use a spoon or pour the chocolate over the custard. Smooth to the edges. Allow to set in the fridge while you’re making the Italian Meringue.
Time to get your torch ready! :-D In a small saucepan, measure 200g granulated sugar. Add enough water to where the mixture is wet and looks like sand. Stir it around so every sugar granule is wet (about 1/2 cup or so of water). Measure the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer and start whipping them to soft peak. Heat the sugar/water mixture to soft ball stage (240F). Take off the heat at 240 and add to the whipped egg whites with the mixer on low. And as my chef says, dump them in, no slow stream is necessary. Just avoid the whisk and bowl as much as you can. Whip on medium-high until the mixing bowl is body temp (barely warm, no longer hot), and the meringue is white and glossy.
Mound the meringue on top of the chocolate, using a spoon to make fun peaks. Torch that sucker! and Enjoy!
– We had the most incredibly awesome storm yesterday. It latest 10 minutes. The winds were horizontal. There was hail. IT. WAS. AWESOME! Except some people’s power has been out for two days now. Texas storms!
– I’m in LOVE with these plates.
– Last week was one of the most stressful weeks in a bit. Three orders! Scones, a Champagne Birthday cake, Brownies, and Lime/Coconut tarts! And all for Thursday and Friday. A Ranger’s Baseball game right after one of the deliveries. Seeing Alex (Paris Alex!) after working at the cheese shop. So good to see her!! Here’s the champagne cake!
– My friends have gotten me into Outlander and I had the theme song stuck in my head for two solid days- “Sing me a song of a lass that was lost…” but that’s all the words I knew. At least, I think those are right?
– I’ve been practicing my French verbs in the car and I think that the audio is so loud that the cars next to me can hear. uh eh ie mange ecoute hehe
– Fall has arrived (sort of). Pumpkin’s are in the shops! Pumpkin lattes are being swigged at every Starbucks in the nation. But the weather just isn’t there yet. It’s a little chillier? But not so much. Can’t wait for boot season!
– Tuesday was my Birthday! The fam celebrated a couple weeks before because my birthday, my mom’s, and my little sister’s all fall within a few days of each other!
I’m super into rosettes on cakes right now.
– Darn Anthropologie and their personal stylists! That’s all I’m going to say. Especially if you’ve seen me the last couple of days. Everything is just so cute- I can’t resist! It’s bad! Bad Molly! Stop!
– I made the cutest little mini cakes with chocolate ganache and nibs on top from some leftover cupcake batter.
– My chef let me pipe the macarons!!!! Pumpkin – all 500 of them! I’ve been working for her for two months now. NO ONE besides her has piped the macarons. Until now…. And today. A batch of Hazelnut and a batch of vanilla. This lady. Right here. Piped them!! And they looked brilliant. :-D
– I found a pic from my Le Cordon Bleu graduation. ah it made me smile seeing these guys!
– Oh and I’ve been eating a lot of cheese because that’s what you do when you work at a cheese shop on the weekends.
What have you been up to?
Hope you have a good weekend!