Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Macarons for Diner en Blanc

Another Dîner en Blanc! I am feeling like a semi-pro for these amazing events. This time for NYC I made a center piece. (See above. I was very proud of myself for the whimsical aspect of it. Also, it's been awhile since I did any arts and crafts, so it was quite enjoyable to make!)

Last year I made "Almazing" Almond Bars and this year I wanted to keep with the white dessert theme. So, I decided to make macarons. When I picked up the pieces for the center piece, I also picked up some edible glitter dust. I must say, these were pretty!
I used organic pear preserves for the filling of the glittery ones.
 
I also decorated some with edible markers which I ended up loving the look of. Nothing like marking the name of an event on food!
These ones had raspberry preserves in them, you know, to match the font color. :)
 
My guest at the diner was a really wonderful musician friend of mine who also happens to be a foodie. I had her in charge of the meal. Check out this beautiful spread!
And that was just the first course!

Here we are enjoying it and the lovely evening. Can you spot the center piece on the table?
Once again I was asked to sing for the event which I gladly did. It's always such a magical night and I'm always happy to sing in front of 4,000 beautifully dressed people. 
I sang Summertime. I thought it was very fitting for a Monday evening in August. :) Here's a video if you'd like to check it out: Youtube Summertime
 
After singing I broke into my desserts. It was kinda like singing for supper...but I sang for sugar.

The night was even more magical than last year's (which is almost impossible since last year was so wonderful as well!) I ended up sharing my macarons with many people and everyone raved over them. (I was worried they were too sweet but people said they were just right.) After dessert my friend and I walked around a lot of the tables and even ended up making our way into the packed dance floor with our glasses of wine in hand. At the stroke of 10, we all packed up and it was like Cinderella's carriage became a pumpkin again. All the fun preparation and partying...and then life as usual...but life made just a bit more beautiful!
Macaron Recipe found here: Goodfood 
Bake well and prosper!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blackberry Pie Pockets

I recently went a little crazy at the local health food store buying up all types of berries. They all looked delicious and they were all going for a really good price. I bought strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

The next day I felt a little silly. How was I going to eat all these berries before they went bad? One solution was to freeze some and use them in smoothies. My other solution was to bake with them.

I decided to bring back an old recipe but change the inside filling, so I made these blackberry pie pockets for a friend's BBQ party.
I had forgotten how buttery this dough is! If you like butter, you'll love this recipe. If you like things on the sweeter side, I would suggest adding a little more filling and then drizzling a light powdered sugar frosting on top of these after they cool off from the oven.
Blackberry Pie Pockets recipe found here: Jameson Marmalade Pockets
Erika's Extras: Just substitute whatever jam you'd like to use for the filling. I used blackberry jam and then added half a blackberry in the middle
Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

Hello lovely readers! This world traveler has finally made her way back to her home, NYC! I've been here for a little more than a week and I've already baked! But I didn't take any photos of the brownies I made. However, my last week in Pittsburgh I baked AND took photos!

The dear friends I made in Pittsburgh who allowed me to bake whenever I wanted in their kitchen let me bake one more time. But they had a request: Could I use some of the zucchini that was given to them?

I was so excited about this request! Last year I wanted to bake with my NYC's friend's zucchini crop from his garden, but his crop was late/non-existent. I was overjoyed and quite amused by how large the zucchini was from the Pittsburgh garden.
 
I easily found a recipe online to make chocolate chip zucchini bread and I was quickly whipping up the batter.

It was still warm when I offered it up to my opera friends during our end of season party. The inside of the bread was moist and almost cake like and the hint of cinnamon paired surprising well with the zucchini. Let's just say it was gone before a soprano could finish singing Sempre libera.
Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips recipe found here: cooks.com
Erika's Extras: I omitted the walnuts in this recipe.
Bake well and prosper!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Malted Milk Blondies with Chocolate and Butterscotch Chips

The opera finally opened here in Pittsburgh and it's a success! We had a day off on Monday and guess what else was a success? These blondies that I brought to the cast/crew party.
Malted milk WITH chocolate chips AND butterscotch chips? This is definitely one of those desserts that is full of flavor, has a soft texture, and is altogether scrumptious. They were enjoyed and gobbled up within 30 minutes of arriving at the party.
 
There's one more performance of the opera left and one more opportunity for me to bake. That opportunity will be the end of season party this weekend. (Theater people like to have a lot of parties.)

Malted Milk Blondies with Chocolate and Butterscotch Chips
recipe found at Mountain Mama Cooks <~ click there for recipe
Bake well and prosper!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Crepe Cake with Almond Whip Cream and Cherries

Due to a busy and crazy rehearsal schedule this week, I have 10 minutes to write this post. Let's go!
I wanted to make a dessert for the July 4th cast party. I also wanted to try my hand at another crepe cake since the first one was so delicious.

I decided to take part of the amazing black forest trifle recipe and make it into the filling for this crepe cake.

It was a HUGE hit at cast party. The mixture of almond whip cream and cherries amidst buttery crepes was scrumptious!

And as I said in my last crepe cake post, I wanted to make a smaller version. So I did that, too.
Isn't it cute?! Ok, I'm off to sing!
Crepe Cake with Almond Whip Cream and Cherries
Ingredients for crepes:
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (75 grams) sugar
Pinch of salt
 
Ingredients for filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup cherries (cut and without pits)
 
To make the crepes:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Continue to cook, while stirring occasionally, until browned. Set aside and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, heat the milk in another saucepan until steaming and small bubbles appear at the edges. Set aside and let cool slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand-held mixer, mix the eggs, flour, sugar, and salt until combined. While mixing on low speed, add the butter and milk slowly until incorporated. Heat a 9-inch skillet over medium heat and grease with a small amount of butter. Add approximately 1/3 cup of batter to the skillet and swirl to coat the pan evenly. Cook for a few minutes until edges begin to brown. Flip and cook for an additional minute. (Erika's Extras: I found it easiest to shake the pan a little and then flip in air, but feel free to use a spatula to turn it.) Repeat until the batter is gone, stacking crepes and letting them cool to room temperature.
 
To make the filling:
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and almond extract with an electric mixer. Beat until smooth. Add in heavy cream, incorporating a little at a time to prevent splattering. When all the cream has been added, turn the mixer to high, and beat until soft peaks form.
 
To make the cake:
Spread whip cream in between each crepe. In between every other layer of crepes, add cut cherries. Sprinkle powdered sugar and some whole cherries on top of the stack when complete.
Bake well and prosper!