Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I make macarons all the time and love them, in fact the picture below is on my menu right now. The macaron is the decoration and meant to be eaten by the lucky diner that orders the cookie plate. The filling for the macaron is passion fruit buttercream.
The macarons that I made for this challenge have a ganache filling in the yellow one, a caramel filling in the green one and an orange buttercream in the orange one.
They can be a little tricky to make so don't be disappointed if they aren't perfect the first time, just keep trying and they will eventually turn out the way they should. It's all in the folding of the dry ingredients into the egg white sugar mixture. Under folding will produce a macaron that is not perfectly smooth on top and over folding will not produce the "feet". I also like to let the piped unbaked macarons sit at room temperature for about an hour before baking.
2 1/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 cups Almond Flour
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
5 Egg Whites (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F . Combine the powdered sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t over fold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes at 200 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Passion Fruit Puree & Buttercream mixed to taste

Sunday, October 18, 2009


My kitchen smells heavenly because I just baked a heavenly cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. The cake I baked is the Apple Upside Down Cake on page 9 of the book. I am a member of the Heavenly Cake Bakers and we are baking our way through Rose's book.

I decided to use Golden Delicious Apples which was one of the choices Rose gave. We were to peel, core and slice the apples and put them in a bowl with lemon juice and some brown sugar. They were to sit for at least 1/2 hour so they had time to release their juices. I let them sit for about an hour and only a few juices were at the bottom of the bowl. I decided to cook them a little so more juices would come out. It worked, and I drained the apples, added the juice to the pan with the butter and more brown sugar to make a caramel. Then I put the caramelized juices in the prepared pan and layered the apples over the caramel.

I put my baking stone into the oven and heated it up to 350 degrees while I made the cake batter. The batter was easy to make, using Rose's technique of adding the butter to the flour mixture, instead of creaming the butter first. I love cake batter, so in the name of research I took a spoonful of it. Yum!! The rest of the batter was plopped on the top of the apples and spread to even it out. I baked the cake right on top of the stone in a regular oven for 45 minutes. As soon as I took it out of the oven I inverted it onto the platter. I lifted off the cake pan and was left with a perfect cake. I put on the toasted walnuts, cut into it and ate the most heavenly piece of warm Apple Upside Down Cake.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


This is my first Heavenly Cake Baker challenge. The choice for this week is Barcelona Brownie Bars on page 367 of Rose Levy Beranbaum's new book "Heavenly Cakes". They are in the oven right now as I am typing this.

The brownies were a breeze to make, you could make them by hand if you don't have a mixer. For the chocolate I used Valrhona Caraibe which is a 66% chocolate. For the pinch of salt I used Fleur de Sel a French sea salt that I love. To add the cream cheese I took a small amount of the batter and mixed it into the cream cheese then returned the mixture to the remaining batter. This helps to incorporate the cream cheese better into the batter.

I did not have a financier mold, (go figure a pastry chef without a financier mold), but I did have that nifty Wilton brownie silicone mold. I bought that mold to use for other dessert preperations but it came in handy for this challenge. I used a mini muffin pan for the extra batter. The mini muffin pan baked the brownies in exactly 15 minutes but the silicone mold took 17 minutes.

I did put the ganache plugs in after baking which was optional but I thought it was a good idea.
The brownies are moist and delicious!!! Lots of chocolate flavor!!!

The recipe made 34 pieces of chocolate, pecan heaven. Thanks Rose for another great recipe!!

Saturday, October 03, 2009


I just joined a new group, "The Heavenly Cake Bakers. We will be baking from Rose Levy Beranbaum's latest book Heavenly Cakes. Marie at Heavenly Cake Place started the group and I was one of the lucky bloggers to get a free autographed copy of the book. I will be baking at least two recipes from the book each month and posting pictures and a story about my experience. Marie chooses 4 recipes each month that we can pick from.
It should be a lot of fun so stay tuned for some scrumptious pictures. We won't be publishing the recipes because they are all in Rose's book and you just must get your own copy. I have all her other books and they are very good, well written and the recipes work. You can also join the Heavenly Cake Bakers just head on over to Marie's blog for the rules and to sign up (just clic on the widget below). When you get there you will see a little video clip of Rose promoting her book and the Heavenly Cake Bakers. She plans on visiting our blogs to see how we like her recipes.