Heart Shaped Macaron for Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Heart Shaped Macaron

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My husband loves French Macaron cookies. I mean, he totally ❤ them. So I made a batch for Valentine’s Day Heart Shaped Macarons for him and my friends to enjoy.

Thomas Keller has a surprisingly (for him, at least) uncomplicated macaron recipe in his new book, Bouchon Bakery.

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Orange Hot Chocolate

9 Feb

Orange Hot Chocolate

Orange Hot Chocolate Vertical

Deceptively simple. This Orange Hot Chocolate tastes just like a Pepperidge Farm’s Orange Milano to me. It’s rich with the mild tanginess of fresh orange. 

My husband and I participate in a local farm cooperative. Each week we get locally grown produce from Full Circle Farm. Lately, it’s been a lot of citrus – oranges, tangelos, lemons, grapefruit, even pomelos.

It takes effort to find uses for all the citrus fruit. You can squeeze and freeze the juice but I wanted to use the fruit since it was so fresh. Thus, the orange hot chocolate was born!

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5 Trending Foods from the Winter Fancy Food Show

2 Feb

Winter Fancy Food Show

The 2013 Winter Fancy Food show was the biggest and boldest to date. Food entrepreneurs served up tremendous variety and some really cool new options. I wanted to share a few of the more interesting treats ‘n trends presented at the Winter Fancy Food Show this year.

Winter Fancy Food Show - Gluten Free Flour

Cup4Cup GF Flour

Gluten-Free. Old news, I know. But gluten-free foodies will be pleased to hear about new products entering the market. In particular, Cup4Cup drew a big crowd, introducing their new pizza crust mix. Yes, celeb chef Thomas Keller was there! Very interested to test this new mix out.

Tropical. In the last year, coconut has [apparently] become one of the top 5 food trends in the industry. It’s even popular with the mixology crowd! Other tropical flavors are in, particularly from Hawaiian vendors. One vendor, Kona Bar, featured a terrific Passion Fruit “Lilikoi” chocolate bar. Chocolate + Passionfruit makes a great combination!

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Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

21 Jan

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Overflowing

Chocolate, Caramel and Sea Salt are one of those special combinations that really make your taste buds sing. I LOVE this foodie celebrity-couple. Try this 15 minute recipe for richly decadent Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.

I’m not exactly sure when I jumped on the SALT + CARAMEL bandwagon. But I am “drinking the Kool-Aid,” as a former mentor might say.

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Fancy Food Show 2013 Coming to SF Next Week!

14 Jan

Winter Fancy Food Show 2013

Winter Fancy Food Show 2013

For specialty food start-ups, the Winter Fancy Food Show  is the place to see and be seen. Over 1,300 vendors will be showcasing more than 18,000 specialty foods at the Moscone Center from January 20-22, 2013.

Have you heard about the winter and summer Fancy Food Shows? These events bring hundreds of industry stakeholders together to exhibit and discover innovative food products. [...]

The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

12 Jan

Best Vegan Chocolate Cupcake PassionfruitThese are moist, tender little cupcake morsels packed with chocolate flavor. Oh yes, and these happen to be vegan chocolate cupcakes! Pair them with your favorite vegan (or non-vegan) icing for a decidedly decadent treat.

I made these little cupcakes with a fair amount of trepidation. Cake without eggs? How unnatural! Would they be terribly dry? Would the cupcakes fail to rise and instead resemble brown hockey pucks? I took the plunge with my vegan neighbor coming to dinner. I was prepared to grab my car keys and run to Whole Foods for a vegan dessert if they were a flop.

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Martha Stewart’s Fish Cake

11 Jan

Martha Fish Cake

When I saw Martha Stewart’s Fish Cake on Pinterest, I just had to do it for myself. This is a fun, whimsical cake any beginner baker can pull off…swimmingly.

To start the new year off right, I decided to try my hand at this adorable little fish cake. I don’t typically make resolutions but if I did, my resolution would be to spend more time doing the things I enjoy most – like baking ridiculously shaped animal cakes.

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Chocolate Tiramisu

23 Dec

Tiramisu Slice

So what do you do with a few dozen fresh-baked ladyfinger cookies burning a hole in your pantry? You make creamy Chocolate Tiramisu, that’s what.

Tiramisu. Chocolate. Tiramisu + Chocolate.

YES.

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Tiramisu: Baking Ladyfingers

22 Dec

Baked Ladyfingers

These cute little Ladyfinger Cookies are simple to make, delicious dipped into a cup of your favorite tea or as the base of creamy Italian Tiramisu.

When I made Chocolate Tiramisu last week, I decided to make my own ladyfinger cookies instead of buying them. The store-bought variety, while perfectly serviceable, just aren’t as good as making your own. Besides, it’s great to say you made something 100% from scratch, isn’t it?

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Lychee Ombre Rose Cake

12 Dec

Lychee Ombre Rose Cake Close Up FINAL

I just finished a fun project: the Lychee Ombre Rose Cake.

A friend and former work colleague celebrated her little one’s baptism this weekend. I was honored when she asked me to make a rose cake for the event, after seeing my first attempt back in October.

Ombre Rose Cake Top

With all the fuss putting this cake together, I didn’t get as many photos as I would have preferred. But I wanted to share the experience with you, and what I learned.

This is a crowd-sourced cake. This cake could not have been accomplished without the help of fellow food lovers. I took inspiration from many sources as I designed this cake over the past month.

I experimented with numerous cake recipes, and at least six (6) types of buttercream. [There will be a separate post on buttercream, I promise you.] Although I did modify many of them, the recipes below stood out. They are solid recipes you can trust to perform.

White Cake : Thanks to SprinkleBakes for a moist White Cake Recipe!
Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Great SMB recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Lychee Filling: Adapted this Lychee Mousse filling from Raspberri Cupcakes
Color Styling: Inspired by 52 Kitchen Adventures‘ similar ombre version

All told, I probably spent five hours on this final cake. You can’t rush genius.

Baking the cakes, whisking fluffy Swiss Buttercream in my little mixer, whipping up lychee mousse and tinkering until I found the perfect color of pink. It takes time, people!

Frosting ColorsRose pink, petal pink, burgundy, red…so many options for pink.

Once I had all the requisite cake components, I was ready to build my Lychee Ombre Rose Cake! You can see there are quite a few tools you’ll want close at hand.

Rose Cake ToolsLet me know if you are curious about any of these tools. A cake turntable is really nice to have. The wax paper is simply to protect the cardboard round from being stained by the buttercream.

Filling the Ombre Rose CakeTorting and filling the cake. Make sure you pipe a dam of frosting to hold in the mousse filling – or you may experience ooze.

Ombre Rose Cake Crumb Coat

I applied an ombre pink crumb coat (dark to light). I didn’t worry about the crumbs visible in this icing since I was just going to cover it all over with roses.Ombre Rose Cake Crumb Coat Finished

I really like the effect. Perhaps I’ll do a simple cake this way in the future. [Note: this is prior to smoothing the frosting...which is why it looks a tad lopsided.]

Iced Cake Before Gold TintThe photo above is before I applied the gold tint. I used the Wilton Gold spray tint to airbrush the cake.

Pink and Gold Ombre Rose Cake with TintThe gold airbrush gives the cake an iridescent glow.

Lychee Ombre Rose Cake

My “Learnings” [Don't make my mistakes!]

  • Don’t Bother with American Buttercream. Just don’t. NO Crisco either. Use Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It’s so much better.
  • Make a LOT of frosting. For this cake, you will need a lot of frosting, particularly for icing the top layer of roses. I almost ran out of the lightest pink icing. Reserve some uncolored icing for emergencies.
  • Keep your icing cool. The rose consistency changes as you ice and warm the icing in the bag. So take breaks and briefly chill the icing to avoid this.
  • Deliver your own cakes. I heard the cake encountered some smudging during transportation. Next time I’ll deliver or find a surefire way to keep the cake from moving. [One good suggestion is museum putty.]

Each time I make this style of cake, I get a little better at it. Still plenty of things to learn and improve upon. 10,000 hour rule, right?

Overall, I really appreciate my friend taking a chance on me as a newbie baker. And I hope you take a chance on yourself and make this cake, too!

- Beth