Monday, June 28, 2010

Almond Biscotti

I just love biscottis. Crunchy, crispy and not overly sweet. I added some cinnamon too and voilà: a perfect treat next to my frappe!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blueberry Macarons

Everytime I'm in the Mont Royal area downtown, I make sure I stop either by La Maison du Macaron or the newly discovered Point G. I've tried many of their flavors and now believe that there isn't one macaron that tastes bad. Even the weird ones like Balsamic Vinegar are delicious!

Seeing that I've been having more of these petits four lately, I decided to give them another shot. I had used the french method last time and had some trouble with the batter that had ended up far too liquidy to pipe out. This time, I chose to use the italian method which was said to be easier to work with for beginners.

I followed the detailed instructions and tips on Mélanger (the italian method follows the french) and found the batter much easier to pipe out! They didn't turn out flat like with the french method! Nice!

However, there are some things I would do differently next time. I would double my pans when baking because my first batch burnt slightly. I would fold the batter a bit more after adding the egg white + almond mixture to the meringue to get rid of all the lumps. Also I couldn't find egg white powder anywhere, so I had to omit it. I wonder what that would change...

The recipe for these blueberry macarons can be found on Mélanger's blog! I suggest to let the filling in the fridge for a couple of hours so it can be really thick when filling the macarons. Absolutely delicious!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ice Cream Madness (Part II)!!

I avoided this (Unsalted) Butter Caramel Ice Cream because I am really bad at making caramel. I usually burn it on my first try, then undercaramelize it on my second attempt because I'm afraid to burn it again. This week, I was somehow feeling more confident in the ice cream-making department, so I decided to give it a try! This recipe isn't in The Perfect Scoop but I found it on David Lebovitz's blog. Even if I was really careful when making the caramel, I still burnt it the first time. I just kept telling myself "a little longer, a little longer..." for the color to turn amber but what I forgot is that when I take off the saucepan from the stove, the caramel keeps cooking since the pot is still hot, causing it to burn. I think I'll start using a thermometer from now on.

There's no doubt that this ice cream is out of this world! I really had to stop myself from eating the whole thing! It reminded me of those individually wrapped salted caramels you can find at candy stores. I didn't have salted butter so I used unsalted instead but still added the fleur de sel as mentioned in the recipe. The caramel bits didn't melt and become gooey after letting the ice cream freeze, but this ice cream is still one of my favorite!

I find peanut butter really good though I prefer having raspberry or apricot jam on my toast. But my sister has this thing with peanut butter. The only way she eats it is with a spoon directly from the container. She is the biggest peanut butter fan I know so I immediately thought of her when I saw this Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Fudge Ripple in The Perfect Scoop.

I followed this recipe to the letter and it didn't double up in size after churning like all the other ice creams I've made so far. Maybe it's because there are no eggs? I had made some peanut butter patties from the Mix-ins section of the book, but the ice cream had a stronger peanut butter flavor than I had imagined so I left them out. The fudge ripple is a must though! I recommend this ice cream to all the peanut butter fans out there!


Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Makes 1 Quart

2 cups half-and-half (I can't find this in Montreal so I used half whole milk and half heavy cream)
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Whisk together half-and-half, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat and whisk frequently until the mixture comes to a boil (it will foam up). Remove from heat, whisk in peanut butter and stir until completely blended.

Chill the mixture overnight and freeze it in your ice cream maker.

Fudge Ripple
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
6 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk sugar, corn syrup, water and cocoa powder together in a medium saucepan. While whisking constantly, heat over medium heat until there are bubbles at the edge of the mixture.

Continue whisking until the mixture comes to a low boil and then cook for another minute (keep whisking). Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla extract and let it cool completely before chilling it in the fridge overnight.

Layer spoonfuls of the fudge ripple between layers of the just-churned ice cream.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ice Cream Madness!!

I am really obsessed with The Perfect Scoop at this point! I think I can call it my favorite book (it has almost exceeded the Twilight series!!). If you don't own this book and love ice cream, check it out asap!

When I used to bake more, I always needed butter. Now I always need heavy cream. Lots and lots of heavy cream. I've been making half of David Lebovitz's recipes so when dividing the 5 egg yolks called for in most of the ingredients, I decided to use 3 instead of 2 1/2. I find this has made my ice creams softer and creamier... even better!

I was attracted to this Green Tea Ice Cream mainly because I love green tea latte but also because of its vivid green color. To make this ice cream, you follow the custard base recipe and all you do is whisk in 4 tsp matcha powder to the heavy cream before you pour in the custard through a strainer. My ice cream didn't have the vivid green color as shown in the book... maybe I should've bought a higher quality matcha powder? It did taste just like green tea latte though!

Mint and chocolate ice cream is my favorite flavor. I just love that combination. Give me After Eight, Pep or Mint Aero and you'll be my best friend. I'm so used to the mint extract flavor though that when I tasted the Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream, I was a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it's delicious (we finished it in 2 days), but it tastes very different from the ones we buy at the supermarket. If you're looking for something like that, I suggest you use mint extract instead.

After making my favorite, I decided to make my sister's: Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream. This ice cream is also very easy to make. You simply make a vanilla custard base ice cream and then layer it with the raspberry swirl (raspberries, sugar and 1 tbsp of vodka). This ice cream also vanished in a matter of days but for next time, I would try to find a raspberry swirl that doesn't freeze, kind of like a syrup.

This summer, I've been visiting our local ice cream shop La Paysanne pretty often (even if I've been making a considerable amount of ice cream recently). Instead of gelato, I've been going for sorbets which I find are so refreshing in hot weather. My favorite until now are lemon, lime and raspberry. I had some frozen raspberries in the freezer so I decided to make Raspberry Sherbet which consists of whole milk, sugar, raspberries and a bit of lemon juice. It tasted exactly like the raspberry sorbet I've been having at La Paysanne but a bit creamier. Yum!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

I don't know why I put off making these muffins. First, I should tell you that these are the zucchini cupcakes from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book. They are usually frosted with cream cheese frosting, but I decided to make them without the frosting and add chocolate chips instead. These muffins are really easy to make, and you don't even have to take out the mixer!

I've been avoiding Martha Stewart's books mostly because the last few time I've been following her recipes, they hadn't turned out well. But I can definitely tell you now that these muffins have turned things around!

At this point of the batter preparation, it felt like Christmas in our kitchen. The mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves brought back sweet memories of warm gingerbread cookies!

Once I took the muffins out of the oven, I was so relieved they hadn't overflowed because I was debating if I should fill them over the usual three-quarters-full suggestion. I had halved the recipe down to 12 muffins but go ahead and make all 24 cause they go by fast!!


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
Makes 24 muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp grated lemon zest
2 cups sugar (original recipe had packed brown sugar but I was out!)
3 cups packed grated zucchini
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tins with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest until well blended. Whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Stir in zucchini and then add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide the batter evenly into muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Transfer muffins on a wire rack to cool.