Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cupcakes for a Sweet 2012

Happy New Year from the Baking Sisters! It's a fun and festive holiday that gives me an excuse to dress up, wear my awesome sparkly headband from J. Crew, and of course bake like a maniac! Tonight, I'm headed to a party, and when I saw these clock-themed New Years cupcakes in the Martha Stewart Cupcake Cookbook, I was intrigued. They are holiday-appropriate and not too tricky to make, although I have to warn that melted chocolate is not really amenable to being poured neatly out of a pastry bag, so I used a chocolate-dipped toothpick to make all the numbers, which was a pain, but whatever. For the cupcake recipe, I used this recipe, which is excellent! It's extremely fluffy and silky; my friend and co-baker Emily said that the batter was more the consistency of mousse, and I agree. I used the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but as always, I used three sticks of butter instead of four, and it was still plenty buttery. Then I just melted an ounce of chocolate, and after several failed experiments with the pastry bag, I discovered the toothpick trick and all was well. Emily so kindly cut out the clock hands you see above, and I put foil on a cake plate to make the clock face. We're going to bring it to the party and reassemble the whole thing, cause we're ridiculous, in a good way. The Baking Sisters wish you a happy (and sweet) New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

For a Sweet New Year, Honey Cookies

As we have written about before, there is a Jewish tradition to have honey on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, for a sweet new year. While this custom has not carried over into the secular world, I am very late in my blogging and so I am starting a new tradition-- honey for a sweet 2012!

These cookies come from the ever great Susie Fishbein, author of the Kosher by Design cookbook series. Somehow I ended up acquiring her latest cookbook, Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings. While I'm not won over by some of the recipes in the cookbook-- some of them are too unhealthy or too basic for my tastes-- I've also discovered a few recipes I really like, and this is one of them.

These cookies, despite their name, are actually more spice cookies than honey cookies, but I think they're delicious. They're really easy to make and mostly include ingredients you already have in the house. Just watch them while they bake or else they burn. Despite making three other desserts, these were the favorite. You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Adventures with the Ice Cream Maker: Dark Chocolate Sorbet

I come not to praise Dorie Greenspan's chocolate sorbet recipe, but to...okay, I come to praise it. There's just so much to praise!
1) It is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy. No warming milk and pouring warm mixtures onto egg yolks while whisking constantly and scraping things into other things. Just throw the ingredients together, heat 'em up, and blammo. You're all set to make your sorbet (after you chill the mixture and freeze your ice cream maker's bowl for at least 8 hours, of course).
2) It is deliciously creamy, even though the recipe includes no cream! Will wonders never cease? In fact, although the recipe doesn't call for any specific kind of milk, I've only ever used skim, and it's been as creamy as one could ask for.
3) As far as things this tasty go, it's relatively healthful, especially if you use skim milk. Great for keeping off those holiday pounds!!!! LOL!!!!!
4) Dark chocolate. Need I say more?
So this holiday season, enjoy a nice steaming freezing churned chocolate-water-milk-sugar concoction. It drive you to that other chocolate-water-milk-sugar concoction known as hot cocoa, but you won't regret it! You can find the recipe here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Buckeyes

I have never made candy before, so I was a little nervous to make this week's recipe.  In fact, it almost didn't happen because I was afraid it might be too much work.  However, these buckeyes were easy-peasy.  The only complicated part of these is dipping them in the chocolate and even that wasn't so hard once I had some patience.

As my husband points out, these are a candy, named after a nut, named after an animal's eye.  However strange their origen/name, they were delicious.  If you like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, you will enjoy these.  And if you are a candy making novice like me, start with these.  They might give you the confidence to move onto more complicated candy (and looking at the upcoming Baked Sunday Mornings recipes, I think I'm going to need that boost).

I made half the recipe and got 26 pieces.  Check out the other bakers over at the Baked Sunday Mornings website.

In other exciting news...2 of the three baking sisters will be reunited today when Rachel comes out to LA.  Hopefully we'll get to bake something fun together.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pecan Pie for Beginners

Here I am again (see sisters!) Unlike Rebecca, I really like pecan pie, but I have a bit of a pie phobia because it always seems so complicated. Especially pecan pie, with all of its boiling corn syrup and other such things. So I was thrilled when I found this recipe by googling "easy pecan bars" and then reading reviews until I found something that seemed to be as good as the real thing. While I acknowledge that it is a lazy man's (or woman's) recipe, I thought that they tasted as good as regular pecan pie, but with way less work. If you're a purist, you can make your own crust (any sugar cookie recipe will do) but the mix worked as well-- I've made them twice, one time each way, and been happy both times.

One warning-- this are SUPER rich and sweet, so cut small and enjoy! And if you're going to save them for later, they keep best in the fridge. Give them a try; you'll be glad you did. You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Holiday Triple-Header From The Baking Sisters' Dad!

Ah, Thanksgiving: a weekend of gratitude, family, shopping (for some), football (for others), and food – too much food – for all. In addition to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner (at my sister- and brother-in-law’s home in Connecticut), our family has two long-standing rituals that involve food.
The first began more than 30 years ago, before any of the Baking Sisters were born. Because we live near the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route, we used to take friends’ children to see the parade. After standing in the cold for several hours, we would return home to hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies (we still use the recipe on the package of Toll House chips). This tradition continued during the many years when we stood on the parade route with the Baking Sisters. Now that they are grown, we watch the parade on television, but we still bring out the cocoa and cookies when Santa gets to Herald Square. Next year, we hope to restore the full tradition and take our grandson to see the parade live and in person! The other tradition goes back only 15 years or so. We attend the Big Apple Circus with close friends and then return home, build a fire in the fireplace (it was 60 degrees this year, but we have to make S’mores), eat plenty of wonderful food and go through several bottles of wine. So it was a busy weekend for the Baking Sister’s dad. I started with my traditional Vermont Pumpkin Pie, based on a recipe I clipped from the New York Times many years ago which I adapted to make the pie non-dairy. Beaten egg whites give the pie a light texture, while maple syrup adds New England-style sweetness that seems to be the essence of Thanksgiving. For the post-circus feast, I made Apricot Tarragon Cocktail Cookies, which go wonderfully with cheese and wine. I saw the recipe in Rebecca’s Food & Wine magazine when I visited California in October, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the recipe was contributed by Dorie Greenspan. Here is a link to the recipe. I went all-out for dessert. I always have canned pumpkin left over when I make the pumpkin pies, so I looked for a pumpkin ice cream recipe to use it up. I found a great one on David Lebovitz’s blog. As he suggests, I included rum and chopped pecans. And since it didn’t seem right to serve just ice cream, I also made Moosehead Gingerbread from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts. According to the book, the recipe came from an old-time fishing guide in Maine. In any event, the gingerbread and the ice cream were a great combination.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies, or, The Return of the Rachel

I know. I am a delinquent. Sarah. feel free to berate me now. Between school, work, and figuring out what exactly I want to do with my life, I have had little time for baking and even less time for blogging. But I apologize for my neglectful ways and will try to do better in the future.

ANYWAY. I actually made these Mexican chocolate chip cookies almost two months ago, for the holiday Sukkot. Sukkot is always one of my favorite holidays-- I love eating outside in the sukkah and even the odd waving the large stick in the air ritual has found a fond place in my heart. This year I moved from sukkah to sukkah (or, since it rained almost the whole time, from house to house) and my job was often to bring dessert. Since I was off from school, I had a little more time than usual and decided to try making some new things (which will hopefully be posted about soon.)

I was excited about these Mexican chocolate chip cookies because I really like the combination of sweet and spicy-- think the old school hard candy fireballs-- and so I was excited to see how these would turn out. While I really liked the flavor, I found that they were a bit dry and crumbly, and became more and more so as the days passed. I think I would make them again, but would add more butter or milk next time to increase moisture. You can find the recipe here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Baked French Toast

This recipe intrigued me, first because it seemed pretty easy and second because I was pretty unsure about what it might look like.  Would it be French Toast or would it be more bread pudding.  Turns out it was much more bread pudding like and pretty good.  I thought the flavor could have been a little stronger, but I'm not sure what else it needed.

I made two changes to the recipe.  First, I left out the almonds because I don't like nuts in baked goods.  Second, I made blackberry sauce because that is what I could find in the supermarket.  Then, I made a salted caramel sauce that I thought would also be good with the blackberry and the combination was delicious.

This would make a good addition to brunch (just remember that it has to sit in the fridge for 8 hours or more before baking).  Check out the recipe and the other bakers here

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