Monday, March 2, 2015

Cookie Butter Macarons

Remember how I mentioned how I loved cookie butter.  I had some chocolate macaron shells laying around (yes, I literally have macarons laying around the house... the life of a macaron lover and baker!) and I didn't know what to do them.  I thought... I love cookie butter. I love chocolate macarons. Why not... combine the two?  I made a cookie butter chocolate cupcake here and it was yummy.

The combination was a win. If you don't know what cookie butter tastes like... it's like brown sugar, caramel, with a hint of spice.
Cookie Butter Biscoff Chocolate Macaron Recipe

Materials needed:
  • silicone spatula
  • parchment paper or silpat
  • electric mixer (trust me, your hand will get tired whipping meringue)
  • a food scale (yes, you need this.)
  • a piping tip and piping bag (I like the ateco #806)
  • Food coloring (the gels or dry powder works best, not the liquid store stuff)
  • A macaron template (either make one or get one here or here. It makes piping easier)
Chocolate Macaron Shell:
260g almond flour
250g powdered sugar
15g cocoa powder
210g granulated sugar
210g egg whites

1.  Mix almond meal, cocoa powder, and the powdered sugar in a food processor. Be careful not to grind too long, otherwise it will form a paste.

2. Sift the almonds, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar. Set aside.

3. Weigh out granulated sugar.

4. Weigh the egg whites.  Beat them slowly on a low speed until foamy. SLOWLY add the granulated sugar to the egg whites as you beat.  Once all mixed, increase speed to medium and beat until a firm meringue forms.  You want a firm meringue with glossy peaks but not stiff peaks.  They should defy gravity and remain in the bowl if you turn it upside down.  If you tilt your bowl to the side and they are sliding out, keep beating.

5. Add the food coloring gel and mix.  To make mine a richer brown color, I used "chocolate brown" food coloring.


6. Then fold in 1/3rd of the almond/sugar mixture into the meringue with a silicone spatula.  Once combined, add another third of the almond mixture. Add last bit.  This batter requires more deflation during this step since it creates such a poofy meringue.

7. Add the batter to a piping bag.  Pipe in rows using your template onto parchment paper. 

8. Pick up the pan and beat until the counter.  The cookies need to rest on the counter between 30-60 minutes.  They are ready to go in the oven when they are dry to touch (the shell shouldn’t stick to your finger)

9.  Set the oven to 300F.

10. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes one sheet at a time. They are done when they look kind of matte and seem firm when you lightly tap on them.  You can always rescue a slightly overcooked one with the maturation process that comes later, but you cannot rescue an undercooked one!!   

11.  Remove from paper once completely cool. If they stick they stick to the paper, they aren’t cool yet. Or you undercooked them.


Cookie Butter Filling
Go to Trader Joe's and buy a tub of cookie butter. Either the smooth or crunchy. I tried both.. they both taste good.
Or you can use the Biscoff cookie butter filling. I think I saw a Target have it once.

Directions
1. Carefully spread some cookie butter filling on one side of the cooled macaron shells, then place a shell on top.
2. Refrigerate in an air-tight container for 12 hours before serving. Why? This allows the "macaronnage" to occur... basically the flavors all meld together to make a delicious cookie even better.


Biscoff Cookie Butter Chocolate Macaron recipe
Need macaron supplies? Check out my amazon store

Written at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pain d'Epi Bread

Have you ever heard of Pain D'Epi (aka Wheat Stalk Bread)?  Perhaps not heard of it, but maybe you've seen or ate it.
It is called wheat stalk bread because, well, it looks like the top of a wheat stalk.  Don't you agree?


The recipe is adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes.  I added my own tips/tricks into the mix. But I feel like the book is a lie... it takes way longer than 5 minutes to make fresh artisan bread. Even more than 5 minutes of prep time.  It's a 4-5 hour process, in reality.




Pain d'Epi Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 packet yeast (7g)
  • 3/4 tbsp salt
  • 455 grams (3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour

Directions
  1. Add water, yeast, and salt together.  Let sit for approximately 5-10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. (don't use too hot of water, approximately warm bath water is nice. Remember, the yeast is alive!)
  2. Add the flour.  Now mix together until is incorporated.  It's handy to have a mixer here.  Mine mixed for approximately 10 minutes using the bread hook on my mixer.  It's done mixing when a nice dough ball is formed.
  3. Place a cup of water in the microwave and heat it up.  Then, place your bowl (that contains the dough) into the microwave, cover the bowl with a cloth, and close the door.  Allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours.
  4. Once done rising, you can either: put in the refridgerator and store for 2 weeks OR continue on.
  5. Place about a dough ball approximately the size of a large orange onto a floured surface.  Shape by stretching it into an oval.  Then fold the dough into thirds, like you're folding a letter.  The dough should now be about a baguette shape.
  6. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper that has cornmeal on it.  Allow the dough to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
  7. Turn the oven on to 450F.  If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven when the oven is heating up.
  8. After the dough has rested, take kitchen shears and cut into one end of the dough at about a 45 degree angle towards the bottom of the dough.  Then take the dough chunk and lean it to the left. Repeat multiple times, alternating which side you leave tend ought on.
  9. Just prior to placing your dough in the oven, put a baking pan of water below the baking stone.  This simulates what a steam oven does... providing a steamy environment for the perfect piece of bread! 
  10. Now, slide the dough onto your baking stone (or just put your pan in the oven).  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is browned.  The dough is done when it has a hollow sound to it.
  11. Cool then serve.
this recipe makes about 3-4 loaves.
Artisan Bread in 5 minutes has a lovely guide on their website on how exactly to shape the bread...

What to serve this with?  This is GREAT for dinner rolls or at parties. 
Serve with... some butter.  Or take some olive oil and balsamic and mix together.  Or take some olive oil, italian herbs, and some garlic, mix together, and dip the bread in that.  

Written at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Biscoff Cookie Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

I have a delicious recipe for you! Cookie Butter Chocolate Cupcakes!  I'm assuming by now you've tried cookie butter. AKA Biscoff spread. AKA cookie in a tub.  It's really yummy.  If you haven't had had a Biscoff cookie, they taste like... brown sugar, caramel, with a hint of spice. The first time I had one was from American Airlines years ago. Anyway...


The chocolate cupcake recipe is not mine. It's from Niner Bakes. 

Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot boiling water
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In your mixer bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat together.
  3. In a separate bowl, add sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and salt.  Mix together.  
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix.
  5. Carefully pour in boiling water then mix.  *start mixing slowly at first so you don't get burned!*
  6. Pour the very thin batter into the cupcake pan, filling the liners 2/3 full.
  7. Bake for 20-24 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  8. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting. (If you don't, your frosting will look like mine in the pictures!)

Biscoff Cookie Butter Frosting

Ingredients
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup cookie butter spread (can use the crunchy or smooth spread)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk (skim or low fat is fine)
Directions
  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl. Mix together.  **Note, if it's not the right consistency, you may add more powdered sugar.
  2. Frost once cupcakes are cool. If not, the frosting runs (like in my pictures! Hey, I was hungry!)

If you would like to substitute peanut butter instead of biscoff cookie butter in the frosting, you can. I did. It's really easy.  Then you have peanut butter cupcakes.

Written at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Monday, February 23, 2015

Favorite Oscar Gowns and Looks 2015

It was a rainy day here in Southern California last night, so we were finally huddled inside like the rest of the country (yes, we don't go outside when it rains). 


I am sharing my favorite looks from Oscar night 2015.


I like this pretty black dress from Rita Vinieris that Kelly Osbourne was wearing.  I think the A-line is very figure-flattering for all women and the black lace is pretty. Now she just needs to ditch the purple hair and tattoos..

Rosamund Pike is wearing this pretty red lace dress by Givenchy.

I know Patricia Arquette's look won't be on most peoples' list of favorites but the reason I chose to feature this dress by Rosetta Getty is for a few reasons: it's simple, it's classic, it has an interesting feature with the white cape going down the side, and it's very flattering on someone who is not supermodel stick thin (aka us normal people could wear something like this!)

While I have never heard of this actor, David Oyelowo, when I saw his picture wearing this awesome tuxedo I had to feature him.  It is a Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo and it looks fabulous on him. 

I like this simple red dress with a twist... literally, a jeweled twist on her left shoulder.  Dakota Johnson is wear Saint Laurent (PS Did you know she is the daughter of Melanie Griffith?)

I love that Jennifer Lopez wore a gown fit for a princess (well, maybe the cleavage would be less revealing if worn by a princess), but it is such a pretty gown. Of course it's by Elie Saab.

Emma Stone looks very pretty in this lime-green Elie Saab gown.

This gown was shown with a cape on the runway... given how "cold" it is here I'm surprised she didn't wear it!  I like this pretty white graceful gown by Zuhair Murad.

I love this pretty blue number that goes well with Jessica Chastain's red hair; gown by Givenchy.

While this gown isn't anything super special... just a nice black evening dress, I just love the Tiffany statement necklace that makes Cate Blanchett's pretty baby blues pop.

Anna Kendrick looked so pretty in this simple gown by Thakoon. 

I love this beaded gown by Yanina Couture worn by Jamie Chung.  

At first I the nude color was a little off, but I love the hand embroidery on Valentino's beautiful gown worn on the very pregnant Keira Knightley.

Singer Rita Ora wore this pretty blue and gold gown by Marchesa. Love the train!

Now for the girls in pink!  Supermodel Karolina Kurkova is wearing this pretty pastel pink number by Marchesa... the back is so pretty, although I don't know how she would sit down! No one said these dresses were practical!

This is one of my favorite shades of pink and Gwyneth Paltrow is wearing it yet again to the Oscars (remember her Ralph Lauren number from the 90s?). I'm not too sure how I feel about the giant rose on the shoulder, but I just love this color on her so much I don't care!  Gown by Ralph & Russo.


If you did not watch the Oscars last night, then you missed Lady Gaga sing a beautiful tribute to Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music. I couldn't believe my ears! I knew she could sing, but she can sing!

You have to watch this, here: http://youtu.be/Y2KSOeLXIzo


Written at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com
These pictures are not mine. This post is for a hobby. If they are yours and you want me to take them down I will.  I am not making any money from this.

search terms: oscar looks 2015, favorite oscar gowns 2015, oscar gowns 2015, best dressed oscars 2015,

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spring Sneaker Trends 2015

I put together this style board of my favorite sneakers for Spring 2015.
I have never put together one of these boards before; it was fun!

Spring sneakers 2015



What I noticed about Spring sneaker trends this year is that they are a nod to sneakers that a lot of us grew up wearing!  Old school Vans type sneakers, original Adidas, Converse (my favorite), and Keds.

Which one is your favorite??

http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Monday, February 16, 2015

Honey Vanilla Latte

After going to Urth Caffe recently where I had their fabulous honey vanilla latte, I thought to myself, why not make it at home?

The funny thing, after searching google and pinterest, almost NO ONE had any honey vanilla latte recipes!  All of them were for chai tea or other tea lattes.  This one is with coffee. 

Honey Vanilla Latte Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup of very strong coffee (or 1 pod of Nespresso)
  • 1 1/2 tsp of honey
  • 1/2 cup of hot skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Brew your very strong coffee.  When the coffee is very hot, add the honey and stir.  The hot coffee will dissolve the honey. Then add the vanilla.
  2. Heat up your milk, either on the stovetop until just frothy or in the microwave in 30 second increments.  (If you want to have lots of froth like my pictures, use a milk frother.)
  3. Add your milk to your coffee and stir.  Enjoy!
ICED HONEY VANILLA LATTE:
To make an iced latte, don't heat up the milk.  Instead mix in cold milk, then pour the latte over ice cubes.
Honey Vanilla Latte recipe - Urth copycat
This recipe I suppose is an Urth caffe copycat, except I can't do fancy latte art.

Written at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 12, 2015

New Butter Plate

I'm so excited to share my new butter plate!  I have been wanting one of these for a long time and this past Christmas my Mom bought me one!!

As most of you probably know, the original ones are from the late 1800s in England and were used by shopkeepers to display butter, cheese, etc...
butter ironstone slab
The one I have is by Parnall & Sons.  It is not original but it is made from their original design and original molds.  I placed my antique cheese dome on top.  It's quite cute; it has cats walking around the edge with an owl biting a cat's tail on the other side.

Joanne Hudson also makes repro dairy slabs.  The real antique ones cost $$$$.  The report ones cost $$.

I have my orchid sitting on top of it right now...

Are you in love with the ironstone dairy slabs as well?  I am looking for a large Fromages rectangular one....

Written at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com