Monday, May 31, 2010

Mini madeleines au sésame - Mini Sesame Madeleines

I was drawn to these cute petits fours ever since I was old enough to bake on my own. I usually make lemon or chocolate but decided to try savory this time.

When I usually bake something, anything, I taste the dough (who doesn't!?). I came to the following conclusion: a good tasting dough will yield a good tasting result! It isn't the case for savory madeleines though... When I tasted the mixture before putting it in the fridge, it tasted so salty that I wondered if it was even worth baking! Surely 2 tbsp of grated parmesan couldn't make the dough that salty?!

I still decided to keep following the recipe and the madeleines didn't turn out salty at all! I guess my dough-tasting theory doesn't apply to savory things...

I found the madeleines tasted rather plain and didn't really enjoy the smell of sesame oil. I would suggest 1 tbsp oil instead of 2 and would maybe add more toasted sesame seeds to the batter.


Mini madeleines au sésame - Mini Sesame Madeleines
Adapted from Mini madeleines: sucrées ou salées by Marabout
Makes 28-30 mini madeleines

100 g all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt and black pepper
2 tbsp sesame oil
20 g unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp grated parmesan
4 tbsp milk
2 tbsp white sesame seeds

Toast the sesame seeds in a small pan on low heat.

Mix all the ingredients (except the sesame seeds) in a bowl until smooth. Fold in the browned sesame seeds and refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Spoon about a small teaspoon of batter into the well-buttered molds and bake for 3 to 4 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) and continue baking for another 5 to 6 minutes. If the madeleines brown too fast, lower the oven temperature.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tarte au citron - Lemon Tart

Celebrating name days is an important tradition for Greeks. Every name has a certain date associated to it to celebrate the memory of the saint bearing that name. When it's the name day of a member of my family, we always call them up to wish them a "Happy Name Day" and often have a dinner at somebody's house.

Last Friday was my sister's and grandmother's name day. They are both named Helen because of another Greek tradition which is less frequently used today. When a child is born, the parents would usually name it after the baby's father's parents (depending if it's a boy or a girl) and then name their next baby after the mother's parents (again, depending if it's a boy or a girl). If there would be a third baby, it would be named after the father's side again. This is why some families have 5 Nicks! This is a good way to keep some older Greek names around but many new parents do not follow this tradition today.

So we went over to my grandmother's house this weekend for dinner and I decided to make her une tarte au citron. I find lemon desserts to be even more delicious on hot summer days!

I made a tart shell using a Pâte sucrée, filled it with lemon curd and piped a decorative design with swiss meringue over the lemon curd. I finally got how to make swiss meringue, remember my first attempt? Then I made my boyfriend brown the meringue using a torch (I was afraid to melt the tart!). The recipes were adapted from the Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Super Lemon Ice Cream

It's pretty clear that I'm obsessed with The Perfect Scoop by now! I've been making ice cream once a week. It's starting to get warm (we've been getting 20-25 degrees these past few days!!), so great timing!

If you live in Montreal or happen to be visiting, you must stop by Léo Le Glacier! Their gelato is amongst the best in the city, especially the lemon one I tried. It was so creamy, light and airy, not too lemony and not too sweet... the perfect lemon gelato for a warm summer day!

So I flipped through The Perfect Scoop and fell upon this Super Lemon Ice Cream. It sounded creamy, light and airy, just like the one I had from Léo Le Glacier.

The result: a delicious lemon ice cream that reminded me of lemon meringue pie (minus the crust, some cookies inside would have been nice) but not the one from Léo Le Glacier. Even if the taste was really good, the texture was disappointing. I left the ice cream out for about 20-25 minutes to defrost because it was really hard, and I couldn't form a decent scoop. Every time I would come close to getting a scoop, it would crumble!

Regardless the texture, this ice cream takes 10 minutes to make, tops. Plus 1 hour in the fridge to chill while you enjoy the beautiful weather :)

My cat Fofo watching me struggle to form a scoop!


Super Lemon Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes about 1 Quart (1 Liter)

2 lemons, unsprayed
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
2 cups (500ml) half-and-half (I used 15% cream)
Tiny pinch of salt

Zest the lemons directly into a food processor or blender. Add the sugar and blend until very fine. Add the lemon juice and blend until sugar is completely dissolved. Blend in the half-and-half and salt until smooth.

Chill for 1 hour, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Raspberry-Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream

Cupcake Bakeshop is my go-to blog for anything and everything to do with cupcakes. You can tell that the author knows her cupcakes when:

a) her entire site is devoted to them
b) she compares and tests different recipes (flavor, texture, dryness...)
c) she uses ingredients such as fennel, papaya, grapefruit

So I had my eye on these Cherry Vanilla Cupcakes for a while now and decided to make them for a very special occasion: my good friend's baby shower. I chose to make them cause they look cute and sort of girly (she is having a baby girl!). The cupcakes turned out really good and the raspberry filling paired well with the almond buttercream frosting! I would fill the cupcakes a bit more next time though.

I chose raspberries instead of cherries for the filling since cherries are out of season now and I couldn't find them anywhere (not even frozen!). Also I completely omitted the salt for the vanilla cupcakes. I once put the amount of salt written on a recipe and my cookies had turned out really salty so I usually leave it out or use very very little.


Raspberry-Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream
Adapted and slightly modified from Cupcake Bakeshop
Makes 24 frosted cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter on high for about 30 seconds until soft. Add the sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat 30 seconds between each.

Sift flour and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together. Add to mixer bowl and when well combined, add the milk and vanilla.

Scoop into cupcake papers about half to two-thirds full since they rise a bit. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. (I baked them for 20 minutes.)

Raspberry Filling
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

Add raspberries, water and vanilla to a pot. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir from time to time.

Stir together sugar and cornstarch and then add to the pot with raspberries. Cook until thick, for about 20 minutes. Make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot by stirring occasionally and not overcooking.

Using the cone method mentioned on Baking Bites, fill the cupcakes with raspberry filling when both the filling and the cupcakes have cooled completely.

Almond Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6-8 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup milk

Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Add half of the sifted powdered sugar, the almond extract and the milk. Beat until combined. Gradually add powdered sugar until desired consistency and sweetness.

Frost filled cupcakes and top with maraschino cherries that have been rinsed and well dried.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Yum yum yum!

It was really worth using a vanilla bean for this ice cream instead of simply adding vanilla extract. It gave such a rich taste and smell to the cream! I placed the vanilla bean into the mixture and left it in the refrigerator the whole night so it would extract as much flavor from the vanilla bean as possible. The following day, I strained the mixture again and placed it into my ice cream machine.

This is the second ice cream I make from "The Perfect Scoop". The recipe is also posted on David Lebovitz's blog. I think I'm getting the hang of making ice cream now. It's actually not that hard and it's so much better than buying it because you can make any flavor or combination of flavors that you want! I'm already trying to decide which I will make next!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Amygdalota - Greek Almond Cookies

I always look forward to receiving these cookies when guests come over. I mean pastries and baklava are always welcome, but amygdalota... they're perfect with a cup of coffee, tea or a frappe!

I wondered how they made these cookies in bakeries. I mean I knew they contained ground almonds, but what else? Flour? Eggs? It never occurred to me to look for a recipe online because I didn't think they were so popular. Apparently I was wrong! I came across a recipe posted by the Greek Gourmand and they look exactly like the ones from the bakery! Everything on that blog looks so delicious! Many of the foods we make at home or I've had in restaurants (pan-fried feta cheese... yum!!).

The cookies turned out exactly like the bakery's when they came out of the oven, but as they cooled, they hardened a bit. Usually the outside is a bit hard and crunchy and the inside stays chewy. A bit like a macaron shell, but less delicate and more dense. The cookies are easy to make but quite hard to pipe out... The Greek Gourmand suggests an easier way for shaping the dough but I chose the harder because I wanted them to look pretty! I also added an extra beaten egg white to the dough because it was impossible for me to pipe it out otherwise (maybe that's why they turned out a bit harder?).


Amygdalota - Greek Almond Cookies
Adapted from Greek Gourmand
Makes about 24 cookies

1/2 kg blanched almonds (or ground almonds)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp fine semolina
1 tbsp orange blossom water
About 25 whole blanched almonds

Add the blanched almonds and the semolina to a food processor and grind until very fine. (I used already ground almonds but still processed them with the semolina to make them finer.)

Beat the two egg yolks and one egg white very well with a mixer in a large bowl, then add the sugar, the almond mixture and the orange blossom water and mix well with either a wooden spoon or a dough-hook on a stand-mixer. (I mixed with the paddle attachment until dough was too firm to continue, then with a wooden spoon.)

In another bowl, whip the egg white (I used 2) until stiff with peaks and then incorporate it into the almond puree mixture.

Coat the inside of a large piping bag with melted butter to help piping since the almond mixture is pretty dry. Place a large tip (I used a star tip) to the end of the piping bag and pipe out small rosettes onto a sheet of parchment paper placed on a baking tray. Lightly press a whole blanched almond into the center of each rosette.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20-30 minutes (it took me 25 min) or until the cookies turn lightly golden. The aim is too dry out the outer layer and bottom of the biscuit while retaining whatever little moisture is left inside. Cool for at least an hour and store in an air-tight container to maintain inner chewiness.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Chewy

The final exam period can be very stressful. It's hard for me to eat the right foods, the ones full of nutrients and vitamins, especially when I spend most of my time at the library or at cafes (mostly Starbucks). One thing that I find myself craving is a warm and chewy chocolate chip cookie.

I used "The Chewy" recipe by Alton Brown to make them. I only had 1/4 cup brown sugar left so I used granulated white sugar for the remaining 1 cup that I needed (in addition to the 1/4 cup needed for the recipe). These were not the best chocolate chip (in this case, chunk) cookies I've had, but they were very very good.