Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chewy Double Chocolate Whiskey, Cherry, Macadamia Nut Cookies

Whew! That is a mouthful of a title. I had a recipe from online that I kept changing/adding things to and thus the long recipe name.
How is every one's January going? This week most of America had incredibly cold weather and NY was no exception. The past couple of days have been below freezing with single digit wind chill.
I grew up in TX. There wasn't much cold weather and hardly any snow ever so I just thought if the temperature reached below freezing it would snow. As a 7 year old this made sense to me. I guess I never figured out that there would need to be clouds with rain as well...

If it's extremely cold where you live I have a suggestion. Bake bake bake! The oven will keep your place warm and smelling great. (And if you make these cookies, maybe have a little side drink of whiskey to keep your insides warm for a little bit!)
Chewy Double Chocolate Whiskey, Cherry, Macadamia Nut Cookies (adapted from Delicieux)
(Erika's Extras: I bought a kitchen scale for Christmas and used it for the first time with this recipe!)
150g of dark chocolate, broken into pieces
50g of butter, cut into slices
80g of plain flour
1/4 tsp of baking powder
2 eggs
250g of caster sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
100g of dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup of macadamias chopped
3/4 cup of dried cherries (optional)
2 tablespoons of whiskey

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Soak cherries in whiskey. (This step is optional if you don't use cherries.)
4. Melt the chocolate pieces and butter in a double boiler over a stove.
5. In a mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until thick and pale.
6. Pour the melted chocolate into the beaten eggs and sugar and stir thoroughly before adding the whiskey and cherries.
7. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir thoroughly before adding the chopped chocolate, chopped macadamias and mix until combined.
8. Using a mini ice cream scoop, scoop the mixture onto the lined baking trays. The cookies will flatten out when baked.
9. Bake in the oven for 8 to 9 minutes and cool on the tray before transferring to a cooling rack. If you put the cookies onto the cooling rack while hot they will become marked by the wires from the rack.
Bake well and prosper!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Homemade Donuts!

In an effort to keep pushing myself in the kitchen with recipes I'm not familiar with, I decided to fry something. That something ended up being donuts.

I thought I had enough time to make them before meeting friends for brunch, but I didn't realize the dough needed to rise again after cutting the shapes of the donuts. But my friends had no issues coming to my place and eating fresh donuts and THEN going for brunch. Imagine that.
These cute, doughy donuts brightened up my kitchen. They were so cute! I don't know why, but my room mate agreed that yes, they WERE cute! And just think, they then got to swim in hot oil and become delicious donuts.
I glazed a couple and handed  them over to my friends.
My room mate loved how fluffy they were so I made him model the donut. :)

I also used different toppings for some of the donuts. Creating different glazes made the making of the donuts even more fun!

If you have 3 hours on your hands, try this recipe. As long as you've worked with yeast before you'll have no problem making your own homemade donuts.
Homemade Donuts (adapted from
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 115 degrees F)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

  1. Pour 1/2 cup of warm water into a small bowl, and stir in the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar. (Erika's Extras: Stir right away with a fork.) Allow the yeast mixture to stand until it forms a creamy foam layer on top, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. While yeast is sitting, place milk and vegetable shortening into a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until the shortening has melted and the milk has tiny bubbles around the edge. Remove from heat.
  3. Place 1/4 cup of sugar and the salt into the work bowl of a large stand mixer and pour the milk and shortening into the bowl. Mix on low speed just to dissolve sugar; and allow mixture to stand until warm.
  4. Beat in the yeast mixture, eggs, and 1 cup of flour on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in remaining flour to make a soft dough. (Erika's Extras: I felt that 4 cups of flour was a tad too much so add a little at a time with the last cup of flour. It's ok to not use it all if it doesn't seem like it needs it.)
  5. Continue beating the dough on low speed until dough leaves the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes. (Erika's Extras: This happened after the 3rd cup of flour.)
  6. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 2 or 3 more minutes.
  7. Form the dough into a ball and place into a large greased bowl. Grease the top of the dough, and cover the bowl with waxed paper. Set the bowl into a warm place; let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  8. Punch down the dough and roll out on a floured work surface to 1/2 inch thick. Cut doughnuts out of the dough with a 3 1/2-inch round doughnut cutter with a 1-inch smaller cutter in the center. Let the doughnuts rise on the work surface until very light and fluffy, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  9. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F.
  10. Gently pick up and drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, working in small batches of 2 or 3 at a time, and cook until the doughnuts are light golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes. (Erika's Extras: I used a metal spatula to gently drop the donuts into the oil thus helping not to spill oil on myself/the counter.)
  11. Drain the doughnuts on paper towels to absorb oil.
  12. In a bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of warm water and vanilla extract, and stir in the confectioners' sugar to make a glaze. Spread a thin layer of glaze over the warm doughnuts. (Erika's Extras: I had to add more water to this glaze, but it worked very well. I also used a tiny bit of milk in a different batch which created a richer glaze.)

Bake well and prosper!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I have decided that 2013 is the year I take on more challenging recipes. Recipes that push me out of my comfort zone and hopefully, like this one, make me realize that yes, I CAN do it. It will also help me understand different techniques of baking that I haven't dabbled in yet. (Or I'll learn from my failure with the new techniques.)
Do you have any resolutions for this year? The baking one is the only one I have. I find that if it's something concrete like taking a comerical acting for camera class or doing a night of stand up comedy that I complete the resolution. However, if it's something a little less concrete like complementing people more, I fail at the resolution. Yes. I've done stand up and had a blast but giving more complements was just beyond me. (Not that I don't GIVE compliments, I just don't give them often. I often think them and never voice the thought. Thus the resolution 2 years ago to compliment more. But it just wasn't in my being. So if you DO get a compliment from me, it means even more! At least that's the way I justify my flaw. Ha!)
Speaking of flaws, I approached these macarons by researching a lot. I didn't want to start with a really demanding recipe, so I eased into macaron baking with a Martha Stewart recipe so as to avoid a flawed first go.
I have to say that for someone who doesn't have a whisk attachment, these sweet things turned out marvelous! I used Nutella and raspberry jam (not together) for the fillings. They are a tad on the sweet side, but got good reviews from the taste testers.

Things I plan to do for the next time I make them:
       1. Get a better food processor so I can get a really fine almond base.
       2. Not burn some of the first batch. (These things will burn quickly!
           Thankfully I only lost a couple to overheating.)
       3. Use more food coloring and maybe even change the flavor of the
       4. Use the French Macaron cook book my friend from Toulouse gave
           me. It's all in French.

So far 2013 is shaping up well in my kitchen. Here's to an adventurous year!
Parisian Macarons (from Martha Stewart)
1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
(your own filling)

To make the macarons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. (Erika's Extras: This is the time to add the NON oil based food coloring. Add more than you think you need because the color will become a little dull in the oven.) Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. (Erika's Extras: I did this with normal beaters in an electric hand mixer. It took about 8 minutes, but the peaks finally do form.) With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners' sugar mixture until completely incorporated.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. (Erika's Extra: Feel free to draw circles on the parchment paper to give a guide for perfect sized macarons.) Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.
Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macarons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. (Erika's Extras: Mine seemed to only need around 12 minutes in the oven.) Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macarons from the parchment. (Erika's Extras: I peeled them off the parchment paper right away.) Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
To fill the macarons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macarons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macarons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Bake well and prosper!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cornbread Muffins (with cheese and pineapple!)

Hi! Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I was on vacation in Morocco. Yes. Morocco! And then I got stuck in Madrid for 3 days. Which all equaled a fun adventure!

In Morocco the one main thing that is served at every meal is mint tea (with sugar added. Yum!)
It always came in a lovely pot with colorful glasses. The proper way to pour it is from high above so the tea can be aerated (which is a tricky thing that I slightly mastered.)
As for Moroccan desserts, oranges and small pastries are the norm. Occasionally there were other options with more French influences like Nutella crepes, but the small pastries were the best. Here's a photo of a pastry shop in the souks of Marrakesh.
Tons of honey bees swarmed around this display which didn't deter my friend from buying some. I must admit that I was a little grossed out. But aren't all the colors lovely? That's one of my favorite things about Morocco. Tons of vibrant colors everywhere you looked.
 Olives stand.
 Pottery shop.
 Dress shop.
Colorful door in the Atlas Mountains.
All in all it was a lovely trip and I would like to go back someday. But for now I am happy to be back in NYC, the best city in the world for me. :)
Cornbread Muffins (sent by my mom)
1 C flour
1 C cornmeal
¾ C sugar
¼ C baking powder
1 t salt
4 eggs
2 sticks melted butter
1½ C creamed corn (1 can)
1 C crushed pineapple (drained/strained)
1 C grated cheddar cheese

Mix eggs.  Add dry ingredients.  Add melted butter.  Add corn, pineapple, and cheese.  You can use cupcake liners or not. Fill each muffin pan cup 3/4 full. Bake at 325° for about 25 minutes.  Makes 24 muffins.  Let cool almost completely before removing from pan (non-stick preferred).
Bake well and prosper!