30 January 2011

Pieces of Pink in Winter....

So as most of you know here on the East Coast, we are getting more snow again this week. I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Where's Spring already?" But as February comes in like a loin of snow, I keep thinking of thoughts of pink for Valentine day that's soon coming. Spending time with loved ones, and letting them know how much they mean to you. Here are some cute pink pics to help bring in February on a lighter note. Keep warm everyone. Enjoy!

Images from Pinterest

28 January 2011

Parisian Apple Tartlets....

Butter...butter...and more butter... So in my first attempt at french pastry baking, I made the Tartelettes aux Pommes Elysée (Elysée Apple Tartlets). This took some time to make, but they taste so good! Also, my tartlets didn't come out exactly like the picture in the book. Oh well. I think the biggest thing was that the tart pans I used aren't the same kind they have in France. So the tartlets didn't darken like it shows in the book. If anyone knows of a good French baking supply store for French baking tools let me know, hopefully they have online ordering. Another thing was I believe I cut the apples too thick before baking them in the oven. So they were to wide to bend into shapes for the topping.

Also just letting all of you know now. You will use a LOT of butter for this recipe. So it isn't for the faint of heart. (No pun intended.) Have a great weekend everyone! Enjoy!

First the pastry...

Pate Sucree aux Amandes (Sweet Almond Pastry) - (makes 16 oz | 450 g of dough)

½ cups | 120 g butter, very cold
½ cup + 1 tbsp | 70 g confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup | 25 g ground almonds (almond flour)
1 pinch of fleur de sel (or other coarse sea salt)
1 pinch of vanilla powder (or a few drops of vanilla extract) (optional)
1 egg
1 2/3 cups | 200 g cake flour

1. Sift the confectioners’ sugar.

2. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a bowl. (Or , if you have a stand mixer, place in the bowl of the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.)
3. Work the butter to homogenize and then add the following ingredients, one by one, making sure to fully incorporate each into the mixture before the next addition: sifted confectioners’ sugar, ground almonds, fleur de sel, vanilla, egg and flour.
4. Combine ingredients just until the dough comes together; do not overwork the dough. This will give the pastry its desired crumbly texture.

5. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before using. If possible, it is better to prepare the dough one day ahead; it will be easier to roll out.

Now the tartlet recipe...

Tartelettes aux Pommes Elysée (Elysée Apple Tartlets) - (makes 8)


Sweet almond pastry for tartlet shells
12 ½ oz | 350 g dough (see pastry recipe above)
2 ½ tbsp all-purpose flour for work surface
 1 ½ tbsp. butter for tartlet pans

Diced cinnamon apple
½ cup | 60 g golden seedless raisins (sultanas)
26 ½ oz | 750 g apples (Jonagored, Jonagold or Boskoop if possible)
4 tbsp | 60 g butter
¼ cup | 45 g granulated sugar
1 pinch of ground cinnamon

Baked apple slices
About 2 lbs | 1 kg apples (Jonagold or Boskoop if possible)
4 tbsp | 60 g butter
¼ cup | 50 g granulated sugar

¼ cup | 25 g slivered or sliced (flaked) almonds (optional)

8 tartlet pans, 3-inch | 8-cm diameter, ¾ inch | 2-cm high
Pastry brush

Note: Prepare the sweet almond pastry dough one day ahead.


Sweet Almond Pastry for Tartlets Shells:
1. Butter the tartlet pans.
2. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1/10 inch | 2-mm thick.
3. Using a round pastry cutter or small bowl, cut out 8 disks with a diameter of approximately 5 inches | 12-cm and press into buttered pans. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Diced Cinnamon Apple:
4. Place raisins in a bowl covered with hot water and allow to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, peel, core and dice the apples.
6. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the diced apple to sear, then add the sugar and cinnamon. As soon as the apples are golden, remove from heat. (Note: The apples should be cooked, but still firm.) Allow to cool.

 7. Drain the raisins and fold in to the apples.

Baked Apple Slices:
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F | 180 degrees C | gas mark 4.
9. Peel, core and halve the apples. Cut again into either 4 or 5 slices depending on their size.
10. Place apples on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
11. In a small saucepan (or in the microwave), melt the butter. Using a pastry brush, butter the apple slices.
12. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The apples should remain firm after cooking.

Tartlet Shells:
13. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F | 170 degrees C | gas mark 3.
14. Remove tartlet shells from the refrigerator.  Using a fork, prick the surface of the dough to keep from puffing up during baking.
15. Fit a round piece of parchment paper over the dough, carefully pressing into the corners and working up the sides so it will stay in place in the oven.
15. Place dried beans or pie weights on top, spreading them out in an even layer.

16. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until lightly colored.
17. Take tartlet shells out of the oven and remove dried beans and parchment paper. Allow to cool. (If the pastry is still pale, return to oven uncovered, just long enough to finish baking and to color slightly.)
18. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

19. Fill the cooled tartlet shells with the diced cinnamon apple and arrange the baked apple slices in a decorative pattern on top.

20. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
21. Sprinkle with toasted almonds if desired.

Note: Give the tartlets a glossy sheen by coating the apple slices with an apricot glaze.

Images from Me; Recipe from Ladurée Sucré (The Recipes) book

27 January 2011

Paris in a View....


We've been planning on taking a trip to Paris maybe this year. I've been searching travel websites for tips, bookstores for travel guides, plane flights prices, hotels vs. rental apartments, and trying to learn some french along the way. It's been a dream to visit there. I love to travel. To see new cultures. Taste new foods. And to try a different language that one's not use to speaking everyday. It's fun to get out of the norm. I like the difference in things. I just hope we can experience all the different things that Paris has to offer this year. 

So, all I can do now is look at pictures and keep dreaming of when we can go. Keep on dreaming. Enjoy!

Images from lucyndskywdmnds*** ; Elisabeth85 {Way too busy}; Dimitry B; frausonnenblume1; bernard-paris - (via flicker); Cote De Texas

26 January 2011

Humming with Cupcakes....

These are so good!

So I got 'the hummingbird bakery cookbook' for Christmas. I was so excited cause it was on my Amazon wish list. As I was looking through the book, I saw a homemade vanilla cupcake recipe. It sounded really good. So I tried making it over the weekend, and they came out pretty good. The recipes are pretty easy.

But after eating one cupcake a few hours before going to bed, that was a bad idea. I ended up dreaming about these cupcakes! Then I had to eat one as soon as I could in the morning. So funny.

Well, one day I plan on visiting the real The Hummingbird Baking in London, and tasting their delicious sweets they have there. Till then, I will keep baking/dreaming through my delicious book. Really good buy! Enjoy!

Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

12-hole cupcake pan
cupcake paper liners

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
2. Put flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment. (Can use the handheld electic mixer instead.)
3. Beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

4. Then gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
5. Whisk the egg, vanilla, and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (make sure that your scrape down the side to get everything mixed).  Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the batter is smooth. Do not overmix!

6. Spoon the batter into the paper liners about two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched.

 7. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
8. When cupcakes are cold, spoon on frosting and decorate.

Now for the frosting...

Vanilla Frosting (makes enough for 12 cupcakes)

2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons whole milk
a couple of drops of pure vanilla extract

1. Beat the confectioners' sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
2. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed. Combine the milk and vanilla in a separate bowl, the add to the butter mixture a couple of teaspoons at a time.
3. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. (The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.)

The completed cupcake...

Images from Me; Recipe from the book the hummingbird bakery cookbook

Spring with Blanc Noir...

So I was talking to a friend last night, she mention that she's looking into re-doing her bedroom for the Spring to liven things up. I was thinking it would be nice to brighten things up now too, since I really want Spring to come. So tired of all this snow and ice. I just happened to fined this. Beautiful design... These are the new blanc noir designs from World Market. Love this store! I'm really big into the modern, Asian style look. It looks so fresh and clean, and gives one's place a far off feel. Also, it's is a very minimalist style to re-doing your living room. Well, happy thoughts of Spring to everyone. Enjoy! 

Images from World Market

Eye Candy for Your Hand....

These are beautiful rings! I love the pink one. It's fun to look at rings and try them on. Sometime to buy; most times not. For any bride-to-be though, you know it's hard to pick out your rings for the wedding. Most want something that's pretty, but that fits them. So you're always looking through mounds of magazines or going through all the jewelry stores searching for a ring that you like most. Here are some pretty designs that might suit your taste buds. Enjoy!

Images from Summer of 2007 Cincinnati Magazine Weddings
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...