Thursday, January 28, 2010

Daring Bakers' Nanaimo Bars

I'm not sure how I'm only just finding this now, but I've joined the Daring Bakers, which is a monthly challenge that starts every month on the 1st where each participant must follow the same recipe, same ingredients, etc. It's kept top secret, unless you're a challenger, and all entries are posted together on the 27th of each month precisely.

Check out this blog, it's one that I follow regularly. She always has beautiful photographs, and it definitely doesn't hurt that she's a professional pastry chef (le sigh!). I thought I'd add the link for all my fellow Nanaimo(-ites?)(-ans?), because the contest for January was Nanaimo Bars!

Stay tuned for my first entry!


Chocolate Chip-A-Licious!

I was visiting my parents this past weekend and my skinny mom gave me a Costco bag of chocolate chips, which she had purchased, planning to use for her Christmas baking, but didn't and now she wants them out of her house so they won't make her fat. Hilarious Little Mommy!

So now I'm on a mission to use the biggest bag of chocolate chips I've ever seen, and no time like the present to get started!

Remember those giant chocolate chocolate-chip muffins that come from places like supermarkets and Costco? I decided to make those, but obviously yummier and a more realistic size.

I'm also a huge believer in one-bowl-baking whenever possible. It's so much quicker and cleaner, and you can do something like bust out a large batch of impressive muffins to share with your co-workers the next morning with minimal effort. Sort of like those old Rice Krispy Square commercials where the Mom goes in the kitchen and throws some flour on herself...

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
By Dulce Doll

1 3/4 cups AP flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
5 tbsp. best quality cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling if desired
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients, one at a time, beating after each addition to blend well.

Fill muffin liners 3/4-full and sprinkle the tops with a few more chocolate chips. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

Makes 10 to 12 muffins.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


The challenge or theme was to try something you hadn't before with macarons, whether it be your first attempt or using a new ingredient or whatever. I decided to put a spin on something I've done before, and also create something completely different, which, if you've ever made macarons, you know that's a huge feat if you're successful (get it, feet?).

Click here to go to the Mac Tweets blog and hopefully my entry will be there for you to check out.

My friend in Japan sent me some matcha a few months ago and I haven't known what to do with it until now. I knew it would be something special, because it's only a very small package, and although it's potent stuff, I still want to stretch it out as far as I can. What could be a more perfect use for my precious gift?

The first of the two flavors I made is chocolate (naturally), following the same recipe I used before by David Lebovitz, because honestly, it's just so easy to work with, and my results last time were so successful. I decided to fill them with a tasty twist on buttercream in which I added ice wine and bittersweet chocolate. Yum!

Chocolate Macarons
By David Lebovitz

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tbsp. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment, and have a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip ready.

In a food processor, pulse together the powdered sugar, almonds, and cocoa, until a fine powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about two minutes.

Carefully fold in the dry ingredients, in two batches, with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).

Pipe the batter on the prepared baking sheets in 1-inch circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten, then bake 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool completely, then remove from baking sheet.

Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Wine Buttercream
By Dulce Doll

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp. ice wine
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 oz. best quality bittersweet chocolate, melted

Beat butter until smooth. Add the ice wine and vanilla, beat until well-blended. Add melted chocolate and incorporate completely. Gradually add powdered sugar until consistency is right, beginning with 2 cups and working up as necessary.

Spoon or pipe buttercream onto one half of each pair of macarons and top with the other.

For the matcha macarons, I tried to think of flavors that would compliment this unique taste. I decided that fruit or berries would be best, chocolate again might work, but I didn't want to become redundant! I went through the pantry and found an unopened treasure - pinot noir infused raspberry preserves. Perfect! But I didn't want just jam on cookies, I wanted to stick with rich and impressive and color contrast. Royal icing!

For the macarons themselves, I used the same recipe again, but adapted it slightly. Follow the same directions with the following ingredients:

Matcha Macarons
By Dulce Doll

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. ground almonds
1 tbsp. pure matcha powder
2 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tbsp. granulated sugar

Royal Icing
By Dulce Doll

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, baking powder, water, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla. Cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until they begin to hold shape. Continue beating and slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites in a fine stream and whip about 5 minutes longer, or until frosting stands in stiff peaks.

This icing can be used on cookies, cakes, cupcakes, anything. It can be stored in the fridge, container covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.

To assemble macarons, on one half of the pair, generously spread with preserves, and on the other half give a large dollop of royal icing. Sandwich together and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Blonde Moment...

So, I pretty much LOVE Blondies!! I'm hosting a get-together of friends on Friday night, and the theme is "afternoon tea", so I'm trying to come up with traditional, and also some unconventional tea party accompaniments. I also want to stick to small, cute, individual portion items so I baked individual Blondies in my little cups that I love so much ("nut and party cups" that I found at a restaurant supply store - extremely handy and very inexpensive).

Also, since I basically make Blondies the same way every time, I added a little secret ingredient that turned out to be delicious - coconut! Hmmm, coconut and butterscotch, I'm such a risk-taker, I know.

By Dulce Doll

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup Chipits butterscotch chips
1 cup shredded sweeted coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and both sugars and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on medium-high speed until fluffy. Decrease speed to medium and add vanilla, beat until combined.

Decrease your speed to low. Add flour in two batches, and baking powder. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Distribute evenly among cups (about 2 tablespoons of batter per) or a 9 by 13-inch baking dish that has been prepared with butter and flour.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake tester inserted comes out clean. If you are using cups, they will be starting to pull away from the sides of the cups, as well.

Makes 24 individual cups or one tray and you determine the size of bars.

Monday, January 11, 2010

English Toffee

I never realized how easy it would be to MAKE my own English Toffee! It's something I treat myself to at the chocolate shop sometimes, but I never think about how it's made. At Christmas, one of my co-workers bought in some homemade Almond Roca to share and it was so delicious, I knew I had to attempt this myself. Mine ended up tasting similar to a Skor bar, but WAY better - yum!

Now the next part, finding a recipe for it! Much easier said than done in this case for whatever reason, so I opted to doctor a couple and hope for the best (something I did twice today in the kitchen, more to come on that!). Fortunately, given my earlier experience making caramel for that fabulous Caramel Tart in an earlier post, my instincts were right, and I was successful!

Again, and I can not express how strongly I feel about using the BEST quality chocolate you can find. It's important to have the best (affordably) you can find of any ingredient, but chocolate is one that you just can't cheap out on! One of the recipes I found called for a bag of chocolate chips - imagine! Sorry, I'm such a chocolate snob!

English Toffee
By Dulce Doll

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
7 oz. best quality chocolate

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment, set aside. Affix candy thermometer to the side of a deep, heavy-bottomed pot.

Over a separate pot with boiling water, set a heat-proof bowl with your chocolate inside. Simmer and allow chocolate to melt.

Melt butter over low temperature. Add sugar and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring as needed until boiling. Add water and corn syrup and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until your thermometer reads 300 degrees, and candy becomes hard when dropped in cold water for a test.

Pour mixture out onto prepared baking sheet and spread by tipping pan until toffee reaches about 1/4-inch thickness. Allow to cool slightly and pour prepared melted chocolate over top, spreading to coat evenly with the back of a spatula.

Refrigerate until cooled completely and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.


Saturday, January 2, 2010


No big deal, but THIS:

Is what I got from Santa!!!!!