Sunday, May 23, 2010

For my AP World Literature class, each student chooses a country at the beginning of the year that they will research and write a paper on at the end of the year. In addition, a class length presentation will be given on a topic of our choice relating to the country. When choosing the country, everyone thinks mostly about what kind of fun presentation they would like to do, and what country would allow them to do it.It took no time for me to realize mine would obviously be food related. And what better country than France? I focused on two main areas for my presentation: Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Paris and Macarons.

The only picture I managed to take of them, and they look super sloppy=(

Finding out about Le Cordon Bleu was really interesting and definitely gets me thinking about what it would be like to take an actual cooking class. But the macarons were definitely the best part of the project. I researched their history, compared recipes, and then went ahead and made them myself. It was REALLY intimidating reading other people's blogs and hearing how difficult it is to make these. Between cracks, no feet, correctly mixing, resting before baking, and baking times, I was getting quite nervous.But I jumped right in. If they weren't perfect I wasn't going to complain. I've never had one before so I really wouldn't know the difference anyway, right? I'd seen them all over the blog world and was so anxious to try them myself and see what all the hype was about.

I made three kinds. Even though this was a HUGE project for my class, I managed to take very little pictures? Idk. I'm stupid. But they were:

1) Coffee-espresso macarons with a dark chocolate nutella ganache filling
2) Regular macarons with a dulce de leche cream cheese filling
3) Chocolate macarons with a raspberry buttercream filling

All three were a hit. The order I have them in is about how I ranked them taste wise myself.
I really really really liked these! Macarons are so amazing. I have googled but have yet to find anywhere near Pittsburgh that sells them=( But hey, I make pretty darn good ones that I don't need anyone else's! (For the time being. Especially since I wish to visit Laduree!!!)

Fluffing my aged egg whites...

Mixing the dry to the meringue

The coffee-espresso mixture

Allowing the coffee-espresso's to rest 30 minutes before being placed in the oven

The chocolate ones turned out the worst. They tasted fine, but they structurally weren't the best. Many of them cracked, and I don't think very many formed feet.

The plain white macarons by far came out of the oven the best. Perfect feet on everyone, and no cracks in the bunch!

However, I'm not sure if cooked them long enough. They turned out wonderful, let's not forget;) But The ones in the middle of the baking sheet never came off easy and usually separated themselves. See below. It made for great excuses to try them, though...

Here is the lovely dark chocolate nutella ganache being generously spread on the macaron cookies.

When I gave them out at school, the reactions were completely unexpected. Everyone loved them. I brought in definitely over 40 I think, and I brought like 3 home. I still hear compliments about them weeks later. I actually got really emotional over the reviews. I mean, I like to consider my self an amateur baker, but everyone was sooo nice about them. They made me feel amazing!!

Quick Notes: Almong flour from the store was not fine enough. I had to sift it for hours! Yeah that was pretty sad... Plus it was soooo EXPENSIVE! If I make these again, (which they were sooo easy and sooo amazing that I should!!), I will buy/borrow a food processor and grind my own almonds!

MSC: Tres Leches Cupcakes

Sunday, May 16, 2010
This makes me soooo ticked.I definitely already had this post written like 10 days ago, and had it set to publish itself on the 15th (yesterday). So I check back on here toady and see no new post on my blog AND find I had nothing written whatsoever in my inventory.

AHHHHH! I completely remember writing one. It mentioned how I love love loved these cupcakes. How the spongy moist texture and taste were so new to me and I feel in love. How this was my first encounter with sweetened condensed milk, and how it may need to visit again.

The cupcakes were easy to make, for sure. Simpler than Martha's usual methods. The only thing is, when you're ready to put your topping on, be ready to eat them! It's a whipped cream topping so it will not hold up like normal frosting or meringue toppings. I LOVED the addition of a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top. It really was the last piece to the puzzle for me.

This month was hosted by Smiley's Sweets and Creations. I am SO glad she chose these. I really enjoyed this new texture of cupcake that I have never had before!

P.S.- I didn't have any foil muffin liners so I went on without them. It turned out just fine!

White Chocolate Fudge

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm obsessed with fudge now! I made it for no reason one time, and now I can't get enough of it. I had some white chocolate chips in the house and decided to use the same recipe as my last endeavor, but minus the cookie dough.

It worked... kinda. I melted my chocolate beautifully, but we all know what the deal is with white chocolate, right? How it hardens in like 2 seconds flat?? Yeah I knew this too, but it slipped my mind... And good thing I didn't let my cream cheese reach room temp... So the second I pour my chocolate over the cold cream cheese... insta-harden. It was crazy how fast the chocolate turned back into a hardened mass. And silly me I though it would melt the cream cheese!

But I put it in the oven and let it melt back and all was well. Except there were still plenty of tiny whit chocolate clumps throughout. Grr... but it still tasted great. Even after freezing for hour, though, the white chocolate fudge wouldn't harden. Really? NOW you won't harden for me? Seriously? So cutting it into pieces was tricky. And sticky.

So I probably won't use this recipe again. But it's silly 'cause the fudge is actually quite delicious!! But, Idk, I feel like there's a better one out there, that doesn't have your white chocolate hardening and stuff. Let me know If you've got one!

White Chocolate Fudge

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted

Combine ingredients in a bowl. (Make sure your cream cheese is thoroughly room temp and mixed in. Your white chocolate will probably still harden, so have your oven ready. Put in bowl in the oven to remelt it all together.) Put in a 8 in pan with a buttered aluminum foil piece already in it. Freeze.

Mother's Day Crepes

Sunday, May 9, 2010
Let me start by saying, I love my mom=) Yupp Mommy you're pretty awesome. She's kinda my bff, like for realz. We're super tight and share so much. Especially our love of food. If I didn't have her in my life, my passion for food would be ka-put! She's helped me to blossom my dreams in the kitchen and seriously always puts up with my temperamental nature. When recipes go astray, she helps me reign them back in and look on the bright side. Plus, she'll eat ANYTHING I make. I can't say that for everyone else in my family... We both share this love of food and that's a bond I really don't get to form with others. We are connoisseurs, gourmands, hungry women, who love food, but most importantly each other.

So for my mommy, I asked her what she wanted for her Mother's Day breakfast. Of course I already knew. Strawberries. DUHHHHH. And crepes. Beautiful, light, delicate crepes.

I got up early and went to work on these babies. I made them all first, then called my mom down to start eating. They were DA BOMB! Unfortunately for me, my sister hadn't woken up yet, and my mom and I had finished off the whole batch, so I had to make a whole other batch for her. Grrr... but now I'm a crepe master, and she loved loved them!

Basic & Delicious Crepes
found here

1 cup all-purpose flour2 eggs
1/2 cup milk1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
* I actually just put it all in a blender. It's easier for cleaning up and pouring into the pan. Just make sure you don't have globs of flour stuck on the sides. You've got to pulse!2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
3. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
found here

1 8oz. block of cream cheese
1/3-1/2 cup of your choice fruit spread (strawberry in this case)

Spread an even amount of your strawberry cream cheese filling into a crepe, and roll it up. Top with powdered sugar, sliced strawberries, and a generous amount of whipped cream.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

Thursday, May 6, 2010

If when reading this title you thought, "This obviously can't be Sherry's post, she doesn't like chocolate!", well that is only half true. I don't like chocolate, but this is Sherry. I can make exceptions. For special occasions. Like a belated Cinco de Mayo party for my Spanish IV class.

This party is just more than a Cinco de Mayo party, though. It is also in remembrance of our previous Spanish teacher, Ms. Susan Fahey, who passed away on Sunday. She was the best teacher I have ever had, and probably ever will have. She was diagnosed with breast cancer many years ago and began homeopathic treatment, as opposed to Chemotherapy. I am a firm believer in natural medicine with little to no pharmaceutical influence. Unfortunately, this was unable to help Ms. Fahey.
We were kept somewhat in the loop by our current Spanish teacher, Ms. H, who was very close with Ms. Fahey. Ms. H spent her weekends taking care of Ms. Fahey and running errands for anything she needed. We learned not too long ago that Ms. Fahey was entered into a hospice. Not good. We knew her end was near but continued to send carts and well wishes. Now, we are all hoping to celebrate the wonderful teacher she was. It's what she would want us to do.

This party is meant to celebrate her inspirational life, and that definitely warrants me to step out of my comfort zone and make something I know everyone will enjoy.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

from One Ordinary Day
1/3 c. melted butter
1/3 c. light brown sugar
3/4 c. all-purpose flour1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 1/3 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
2 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. package softened cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla

Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick spray.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in 1/3 cup semisweet chips. Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate or freeze until firmed up slightly.

Unwrap dough and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Refrigerate on a cookie sheet if cookie dough pieces start to soften up.

Melt remaining chips and pour over confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. Scrape down and combine until smooth. Fold in cookie dough pieces with a wooden spoon. Spoon into pan, smooth out with back of rubber spatula lightly sprayed with cooking spray, and chill until firm.

Lift fudge out of the pan with foil and cut into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

ADDED 5/7/10: Upon serving this to my classmates, I was practically mugged for the recipe! Honestly, I got soooo many great reviews! In fact, I'm going to make it again VERY soon. I have never made fudge until now, but I realize I'm in love with it!