Snowflake Sugar Cookies


It's Christmastime!!!!!!

Well, technically it's still November 30th but that's close enough for me. I am batshit crazy over Christmas, even though it is the busiest time of the year for me in terms of my job as a pastry cook. So, I kinda hate Christmas 'cause it means 12 hour days every day, but I also love it so so so much because, well, it's CHRISTMAS!!



I made Christmas snowflake sugar cookies (and gingerbread cookies) last year but this year I have upped my game! I bought new snowflake cutters back in March and have been absolutely itching to use them ever since. You'd think that buying snowflake cookie cutters in March would mean they're cheaper, right? Nope. Still cost me $40 for 4 cutters. But I neeeeeed them.




So this is the first post that will kick off the Christmas posts. All the posts from now until Christmas will be Christmas posts! Last year, I managed to do two posts per week but I am telling you right now that I am not doing that this year. I don't know how I managed to get the time to do that last year 'cause this year, I'm barely able to get the one-a-week out. I want to do two per week, I really do, but it ain't happening. 



If these cookies look super intimidating - don't freak out!! They're actually really easy, especially if you use sanding sugar like I did. With sanding sugar, it makes everything look way better. If you're lines are a bit crooked or your dots are a bit lumpy, it just gets covered in sparkly sugar and it looks great! And the designs can be completely made up, like mine are. I just did some basic lines and then added some more lines and then some dots without really planning ahead. 


So get your decorations out, put on the Christmas music, and start making your Christmas cookies!




Snowflake Sugar Cookies 

150 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
112 g icing sugar
1 g salt
5 g vanilla extract
50 g eggs
250 g all-purpose flour
20 g cornstarch


Royal Icing

400 g icing sugar
50 g egg whites

Sanding sugar and silver dragées for decorating

For the cookies, cream the butter, salt, and icing sugar together on medium speed in an electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until a homogenous mass is obtained, about 2 minutes.

Stop the mixer, add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix for a few seconds on low speed until the eggs are completely incorporated.

Stop the mixer, add the sifted flour and cornstarch, and mix for a few seconds, pulsing the mixer at first to keep the flour in the bowl. Mix just to obtain a homogenous mixture. 

Shape the dough into a flat square and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

For the royal icing, combine the icing sugar and egg whites in the bowl on an electric mixer. Beat with a paddle for a few minutes. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with the smallest circular tip you have.

Preheat the oven 325 F.

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit out for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or 2 silpats to 5mm thick and cut out your desired shapes. Remove the surrounding dough, leaving the cookies on the parchment or silpat. Gently slide the parchment or silpat onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. 

Bake the cookies until lightly golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes, depending on the size of your shapes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Pipe your desired designs onto the cookie using the royal icing. While it is still wet, place the cookie icing-side down in a shallow container of sanding sugar. Shake the container a little, take the cookie out, and brush off any sugar the has stuck to the cookie (sugar granules with mess you up when piping later). Pipe any additional designs.  If you want to put on a dragee, do so while the icing is still wet. Let everything dry completely.

Strawberry Passion Fruit Macarons


Weekend mornings are my favourite mornings, especially now that a sleep-in for me means a 7am wakeup (not sarcastic)! Early morning work shifts have their upsides. 

I like waking up when the sun is just getting warmed up and the streets are quiet except for a few people walking around and a maybe a car or two. I slowly make my cup of tea, plop myself down on the couch, and start browsing food blogs. Nowadays, I crack the window open a little bit to breath in a bit of fresh air and hear everyone start their days, draw the curtains completely away from the window to let in aaaaall that spring sunshine and delight in the buds coming in on the trees right outside my window. Soon, when I look out my window, it will be filled with vibrant green leaves instead of bare branches.

I'm a winter girl - I like my sweaters and my blankets and my cozy fires, but the change from winter to spring is always a welcome sight. It's like a breath of fresh air in a stale, stuffy room. 


I'm not the type to do a massive "spring clean", I don't think I have ever done it (willingly), but the other day, I had a spontaneous mini spring clean. The water in my building was shut off for one of my days off last week - the laundry day, of course - so I had a pile of unwashed dishes and unwashed laundry waiting for me after work. I set to work on that, but then decided to clean my kitchen because I was already cleaning and I might as well.



Then I vacuumed and mopped the entire apartment, cleaned the whole bathroom, and folded the laundry. I opened up the cupboard to make myself a well-deserved cup of tea and thought, 

"I'm going to clean this cupboard out."

And I did. 

My baking cupboard is fairly well organized, my prop shelves are nice and neat. But then there's my cupboard of spices/tea/cans/jars/ little packets of half full mystery powders/ ziplock bags of I can't remember what the heck this is/ boxes of I still have this? 

It's a mess. Every time I open the cupboard, I think, "Man, I need to clean this out…. but not today, nah, tomorrow or… maybe next week. Another time." and it never gets done. 

So finally, with the cleaning momentum behind me, I set to work on the dreaded messy cupboard of crap.


I took everything out and cleaned the actual shelves and then rearranged them so the spacing was even in the first place. I tossed things I hadn't used in a year and found things that I had forgotten I even had. I found 4 half full containers of hot chocolate mix - they're now one giant mish-mash of hot chocolate mixes in one big jar. I gathered all my spices in their little baggies and transferred them to all the empty jars I had lying around. I got out the masking tape and made labels for everything (no more "Oh, I'll remember what this is without a label") and organized it according to frequency of use. 


After two hours of cleaning, organizing, and labelling, it was done. I stood back, proudly looked at my beautiful labelled and contained cupboard and thought to myself, 

"This is going to stay clean for like, a week, two weeks tops…"

Nevertheless, I was very happy with it. I made a lemon and garlic risotto using some arborio rice that I rediscovered (without using a recipe either, go me!), roasted some cauliflower to mix into said risotto, and had a lovely dinner. All this on a weekday! I didn't think it was possible. 

The next day, all I did after work was have a nap and drag myself to hot yoga and go straight to bed. The day after that, I watched 3 episodes of a show on Netflix and went to bed. So don't go thinking I'm some sort of adult that has my life together.


Without realizing, I guess I've had a bit of spring fever! First with the cleaning, now I'm daydreaming about all the things I want to make with the upcoming fresh produce - both sweet and savoury!

I like cooking, but I only cook a proper meal on the weekends usually. Weeknight dinners tend to be leftover soup and simple roasted veggies, easy and quick. Dinners on the weekends used to be a stew or a fancier soup or maybe a curry, but with the sunshine (on some days), I'm craving fresher and brighter flavours. 

During the week, I'm always thinking of what I can make for dessert on the weekend for the blog. I'm brainstorming all week for something sweet and delicious, but I never give much thought to what I will eat for dinner. I'll pick up  couple staples at the grocery store and maybe use a basic recipe to make something easy. But it's always an afterthought for me. I put all this effort and time into my desserts, but dinners always fall the to the wayside.


Maybe it's the sunshine, maybe it's the fact that I can actually find ingredients for dinner in my cupboard again, or maybe it's just me becoming more of an adult, but I suddenly want to put effort into my dinners! I want to pickle my own veggies, make my own veggie burgers, try frying tofu for the first time, make something other than my usual 6-recipe repertoire! 

I gave my boyfriend a copy of Ottolenghi's Plenty a few years back and we have made a total of one recipe from that book. One. I know, it's sad. So I'm going to borrow that darn book and start making things. I'm also dying to get a hold of Sprouted Kitchen's new book, Bowl and Spoon because I absolutely love their blog and their book seems like the perfect thing to get me started. In fact, I want to get my hands on a bunch of new vegetarian cookbooks! Even though I have 27 dessert and baking books on my shelf, I have only one savoury cookbook. 

So tell me! What is your favourite cookbook? Which one on your shelf is dog-eared and bookmarked, annotated, splattered with food, and just generally well-loved? I wanna hear it!


P.S. I'm trying not to rub it in too much, but in a few days, I'm off to the Philippines for a couple weeks (!!!!!!) so there won't be any posts here for that time. But I'll be back soon with more bright and spring-y desserts! 


Strawberry French Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery

38 g granulated sugar
38 g granulated sugar
63 g egg yolks
75 g whole milk
250 g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature
20 g freeze-dried strawberry powder

Passion Fruit Curd
Recipe from The Modern Cafe

79 g passio fruit purée
8 g lemon juice
100 g granulated sugar
105 g egg yolks
132 g unsalted butter, at room temperature


Strawberry Macarons
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery
212 g almond flour/meal
212 g powdered sugar
82 g egg whites
10 g freeze-dried strawberry powder
90 g egg whites
236 g granulated sugar
158 g water

Garnish

50 g white chocolate, chopped finely


First, make the buttercream. If you wish, the buttercream can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Take the buttercream out of the fridge thirty minutes before you need to use it and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow it to soften and then mix on low speed until it is the proper consistency.

Whisk 38 grams sugar and the yolks together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the milk and remaining 38 grams of sugar in a medium saucepan, set over 
medium heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar. When the milk is just below a simmer, remove 
the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, pour it into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pan and place over medium heat. Whisking constantly, bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 minute, lowering the heat if necessary to prevent the mixture from curdling. It should be very thick.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of a stand mixer. fit the mixer with a whisk attachment, turn the mixture to medium, and whisk for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is completely cool.

Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, to the egg yolk mixture. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed to re-emulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter. Check the consistency: if the buttercream is too loose to hod its shape, it should be refrigerated for a few hours to harden, then beaten again to return it to the proper consistency.

Add the strawberry powder and fold in by hand until completely combined. 

For the passion fruit curd, combine the passion fruit purée and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl. Pour about one-third of the hot purée into the yolks, whisking constantly. Add the remaining hot purée. Place the mixture in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Cook the curd, whisking constantly, until thickened and the temperature is about 82 C. 

Remove from the hot water bath and whisk for a minute to cool it down. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer. 

Using a Vitamix or an immersion blender, blend on low speed for a few seconds, then add the butter 2 to 3 pieces at a time, blending until incorporated. Let the curd cool to room temperature.

The curd can be used at this point or transferred to a covered container. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Start on the macarons. The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface with the long side facing you. Using a glass or bowl, trace the desired size of your macaroons (I used a 1.5 inch diameter for these). Make sure to leave 1 inch of space between them. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Add the strawberry powder and stir until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and 
the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.

Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.

Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again.

Pipe the remaining macaron mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.

For the garnish, place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 20 seconds, stopping every 5 seconds to stir the chocolate. Do not melt it completely in the microwave or else the temperature will exceed 32 C and become untempered and you will have to start again with new chocolate. Let the chocolate sit at room temperature and the residual heat will melt the chocolate, hopefully without raising the temperature past 32 C. Transfer the chocolate to a small parchment cone and pipe your design onto half of the macaron shells.

To assemble, transfer the buttercream to the pastry bag with the 3/8 inch tip. Transfer the curd to a pastry bag with the 3/8 inch tip. Remove the macarons from the parchment paper. Turn half of them over. Pipe a ring of buttercream, not quite reaching the edge of the macaron. Fill the hole with passion fruit curd. Top with a second macaron and gently press to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.

The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before seving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.


Cranberry & White Chocolate Macarons

I love Christmas. This is nothing new and I'm sure you've already come to that conclusion based on the many Christmas recipes that I've put up since the beginning of December. I love the decorations and the twinkling lights and even the music. But I love it for reasons more meaningful than shiny baubles. 

My boyfriend is not so much into Christmas (poor guy). It's pretty understandable seeing that his whole family is in another continent and he hasn't spent a Christmas with them in about a decade. He's turned a little bitter about a holiday that most people get to spend with their family when he doesn't get to. Like a modern day Grinch. I told him this, but he doesn't know who or what the Grinch is (?!?!). If I wasn't working 12 hours a day right now, I'd sit him down and make him watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. 

The other day, I was talking about how much I loved Christmas. He asked me why.

I gave him the usual answer - pretty lights, cute decorations, happy music. But he didn't really get my excitement. I started to really think about what exactly it is about Christmas that I love so much.

I love giving gifts. I love searching out the perfect gift for someone. I look forward to seeing their reaction upon opening their gift more than I look forward to getting any gifts. I get such delight in thinking of something that someone would just love - and not just "Oh, he likes food so I'll get him this random cookbook that I think I would like." You have to put more thought into it than that. It shows when you do. 

I explained that to my boyfriend and he started to understand it a little more. Truthfully, the more I explained it, the more I realized it. 

When I give a really thoughtful and heartfelt gift to someone, they smile. They smile a genuine smile of love and appreciation and gratitude. That's what I love - seeing that person realize that someone really cares about them, that they are someone very special to me.

Christmas isn't about buying useless crap and spending tons of money. It's hard to realize that because everywhere you look, you're bombarded with ads and commercials telling you that

if you really care about the one you love

, you'll buy them this necklace/gaming system/sweater/whatever. 

It's really hard to resist that because you think to yourself, "Well, I really do love them. If I don't get that, does that mean I don't really love them? Will they think that I don't love them?". We're led to believe that the more money we spend on someone, the more we love them. That's totally not true. 

The best gifts I've ever received have cost nothing. Gifts like a handmade card or a heartfelt poem - the ones that take effort and thought and feeling, not just money.

One Christmas several years ago, I was tight on money, so I wrote my parents each a letter for Christmas. My brother made fun of me for being so cheap. My dad shed a little tear when he read his. To this day, he still has that letter that I wrote him. I doubt that any of the books that I've given him made the same impact.

Ah, I'm getting all serious and sentimental here. The point I'm trying to get across is that you need to realize that Christmas isn't about

stuff

, it's about expressing love. The two are not the same. It's tough to stay afloat in the sea of "buy this!" and "buy that!", but it can be done and when you see that genuine smile from someone, you'll know what I'm talking about.

No one really needs more

stuff

in their life. But everyone could use a little more love in their life. 

"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more..."

Cranberry and White Chocolate Macarons

White Chocolate French Buttercream

Recipe adapted from 

Bouchon Bakery

38 g granulated sugar #1

38 g granulated sugar #2

63 g egg yolks

75 g whole milk

250 g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature

125 g white chocolate, chopped finely

Cranberry Puree

200 g fresh or frozen cranberries

75 g vanilla sugar

10 g maple syrup

1/2 vanilla bean

1 cinnamon stick

Vanilla Macarons

Recipe adapted from 

Bouchon Bakery

212 g almond flour/meal

212 g powdered sugar

82 g egg whites

90 g egg whites

1/2 vanilla bean

236 g granulated sugar

158 g water

First, make the 

buttercream

. If you wish, the buttercream can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Take the buttercream out of the fridge thirty minutes before you need to use it and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow it to soften and then mix on low speed until it is the proper consistency.

Place the white chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the sugar #1 and the yolks together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the milk and sugar #2 in a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar. When the milk is just below a simmer, remove 

the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, pour it into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pan and place over medium heat. Whisking constantly, bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 minute, lowering the heat if necessary to prevent the mixture from curdling. It should be very thick.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of a stand mixer with the white chocolate in it. Let it sit for 30 seconds and then slowly stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is emulsified. Fit the mixer with a whisk attachment, turn the mixture to medium, and whisk for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is completely cool.

Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, to the egg yolk mixture. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed to re-emulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter. Check the consistency: if the buttercream is too loose to hod its shape, it should be refrigerated for a few hours to harden, then beaten again to return it to the proper consistency.

For the

cranberry puree

, combine the cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the saucepan along with the pod. Heat over medium-low heat until the cranberries pop, about 7 to 9 minutes. Let the  mixture cool completely. Remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean pod. Puree the cranberries with an immersion blender or a regular blender until smooth. Transfer to a container and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent it from drying out.

Start on the 

macarons

. The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface with the long side facing you. Using a glass or bowl, trace the desired size of your macaroons (I used a 1.5 inch diameter for these). Make sure to leave 1 inch of space between them. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and 

the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.

Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.

Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again.

Pipe the remaining macaron mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.

Transfer the buttercream to the pastry bag with the 3/8 inch tip. Transfer the cranberry puree to a pastry bag with the 3/8 inch tip. Remove the macarons from the parchment paper. Turn half of them over. Pipe a ring of buttercream, not quite reaching the edge of the macaron. Fill the hole with cranberry puree. Top with a second macaron and gently press to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.

The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before seving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

Christmas Gingerbread and Sugar Cookies

 

I think in most households, decorating Christmas cookies means the start of the holiday season. I say "most households" because as far as I can remember, I don't think I did that. Not that I'm holding any grudges or anything, I promise! Maybe it just didn't occur to me as a child that that was a thing that I could do? Or maybe I did decorate cookies when I was really young and I just have no memory of it. Mom and Dad might correct me on this one.


Whether or not I decorated cookies in my childhood, I am making up for it now. I spent hours decorating so. many. cookies. The ones in these photos are maybe one-quarter of what I actually made. These are the ones that ended up really nice. So many ended up not so nice. I tried to write cute little things on the cookies, like "Merry Christmas", "Let it snow", and "Baby, it's cold outside" in fancy script but maaaaan oh man was that a fail.



And can you believe that I've never been part of a cookie exchange? I've never even been invited to one! That's probably because my friends are not really into baking like I am. I'd be great at it though - both the making and the eating. 


I was inspired by the folks at Patience Brewster Inc. to be a part of their Online Cookie Exchange. I was super excited! Patience Brewster makes handcrafted and unique ornaments plus lots of other accessories, cards, etc. Their Christmas ornaments are definitely their specialty, though. 


The great thing about this cookie exchange is that everyone is invited! Anyone can makes cookies, put in on their blog, and all you have to do is say that you got the inspiration from Patience Brewster Inc.! 

So put some Christmas music on, get some hot chocolate, and start making your cookies!





Sugar Cookies

227 g unsalted butter, room temperature
192 g sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
325 g all-purpose flour

Gingerbread Cookies

312 g all-purpose flour
3 g baking soda
3 g salt
3 g ground cinnamon
3 g ground ginger
2 g ground allspice

171 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 g brown sugar
115 g granulated sugar
37 g eggs
15 g molasses

Royal Icing

400 g icing sugar
50 g egg whites


For the sugar cookies, combine the butter and sugar together and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side and the bottom of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. 

Gradually add the flour in 3 additions, mixing on low speed and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

For the gingerbread cookies, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices into a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the butter and both the sugars together and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side and the bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs and molasses and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. 

Gradually add the flour in 3 additions, mixing on low speed and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Use whatever cutter you like to cut as many cookies as possible. Gently gather the scraps together and reroll one time, cutting out the cookies and discarding the scraps.

Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your cutter. Smaller cookies will bake faster, bigger cookies will take longer. Check the cookies often as they overbake easily.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing the cookies using an offset spatula. Allow the cookies to completely cool before decorating.

For the royal icing, combine the powdered sugar and egg whites in the bowl on an electric mixer. Beat with a paddle for a few minutes. You will need two consistencies of icing - flooding and piping. Take about 2/3 of the icing out of the bowl, place it in a separate container and cover the surface with a damp paper towel. This is your flooding icing. Beat the rest of the icing until it has a thicker consistency. Put into a separate container and cover the surface with a damp paper towel. This is your piping icing.

When ready to pipe, transfer some of the icing to small piping bags.

For the flooded cookies, use the thicker consistency of icing to pipe a border. Let it dry completely before using the thinner icing to flood the cookies. You don't have to fill in every nook and cranny with the icing. Use a toothpick to help push the icing into place. Let this dry completely, at least an hour. When they have dried, use the thicker consistency of icing to pipe the details. While it is still wet, place the cookie icing-side down into a shallow container of sanding sugar. Shake the container a little, then gently take the cookie out and  let it dry completely. If you want to put on a dragee, do so right after you dip the cookie in the sugar.

For the piped cookie, use the thicker consistency of icing to pipe a border. While it is still wet, place the cookie icing-side down in a shallow container of sanding sugar. Shake the container a little, take the cookie out, and brush off any sugar the has stuck to the cookie (sugar granules with mess you up when piping later). Let it dry completely. Using the thicker consistency again, pipe your design. If you want to put on a dragee, do so while the icing is still wet. Let everything dry completely.

Feel free to do your own designs and decorate however way you like. 









Strawberry Mousse in Honey Tuiles


I'm a big fan of mousses. I feel like a good mousse can fit any occasion - a fancy dinner party, picnic lunch, or just a regular Tuesday night. A mousse can be almost any flavour you can think of, perfect for any and every season. And the texture of a light, smooth, and airy mousse can't be beat.


Another big plus to making mousses - very little cooking involved! That means you don't have to be sweating over a stove when it's already 30 degrees in your kitchen. Another plus - it's the perfect make-ahead dessert. Just whip it up (literally), chill it, and you're done! Pull it out of the fridge and serve it. Super simple.


This mousse has more strawberry puree than whipped cream, so the strawberry flavour really shines. If you can, try to get local strawberries, ones that are red all the way through and super flavourful. I didn't have those when I made these and they still tasted great, but they'd be even better with the tasty little strawberries that are packed with flavour.


If you have to use the white-on-the-inside strawberries, be sure to hull them (take out the white part) to be sure that you get all the good strawberry flavour and none of that watery sour flavour. 

If you don't have any strawberries on hand, this mousse will work with any other kind of berry as well. Same method and everything! Blackberry mousse, raspberry mousse, or even a layered combo of mousses! The Charred Lemon Mousse topped with this strawberry (or blackberry/raspberry) mousse would be unreal! The possibilities with mousse are endless. 



Strawberry Mousse in Honey Tuiles
Recipe adapted from so good.. Magazine, Issue #4

Honey Tuiles

50 g egg whites
50 g icing sugar
50 g unsalted butter, melted
50 g honey
50 g all-purpose flour


Strawberry Mousse

300 g strawberries, hulled and quartered
20 g vanilla sugar
50 g water

250 g strawberry puree
50 g sugar
2 gelatin sheets
190 g heavy cream


First, make the honey tuiles. Combine the egg whites and icing sugar in a small bowl. Slowly add the melted butter, then the honey. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Make the strawberry puree. Combine the strawberries, vanilla sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until the strawberries are tender. Remove from heat. Let it cool slightly before pureeing it with a blender or immersion blender. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds.

Measure out 250 g of the strawberry puree (you should have about 30 to 40 grams extra) into a saucepan. Add the sugar to the puree and set over medium-low heat. 

Meanwhile, soften the gelatin sheets in ice water.

When the sugar in the puree has dissolved, remove from heat and add the gelatin. Stir to make sure it has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl set over an ice bath to cool.

Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks.

Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the cooled puree, then gently fold in another one-third, then the remaining one-third. 

Fit a piping bag with a round tip. Twist the tip and press the twisted portion of the piping bag inside of the tip, ensuring the mousse will not leak out. Transfer the mousse to the piping bag and place it in a container that will keep the piping bag upright. Use a clip to seal the open end of the piping bag. Chill the mousse until firm, at least 1 hour. 

The tuiles will go soft quickly, so make them only when you are close to serving the desserts.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Using a rectangular stencil, wipe the batter onto a silpat. Only make three to four at a times. Transfer the silpat to the baking sheet. Bake the tuiles for 9 to 10 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Using an offset spatula, gently lift the tuiles off the silpat and wrap around a tube (or bottle, cup, etc.), making sure the ends of the tuile overlap. If you need to adjust the tuiles after they have cooled, simply place them back in the oven for 20 seconds and they will become soft and pliable again.

Repeat with the remaining batter.

When you are ready to assemble, place the tuile tubes on the plate you are serving them on. Gently pipe in the strawberry mousse. Garnish with the strawberry puree and a few thin slices of strawberry.

Serve immediately.


Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Looking back, I wish I had made these into ice cream sandwiches with this Brown Butter Ice Cream. The nuttiness from the brown butter would pair perfectly with the hazelnuts in the cookies. The cookies are soft and chewy enough to not get too rock hard during freezing and they're not too thick so you'd get a great cookie to ice cream ratio. Oh, the regrets! 



Unfortunately, I'm away from my ice creamer maker, camera, tripod, food props, and everything else I might need for making Brown Butter and Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwiches, otherwise I'd have made these weeks ago. I find cookies are fine on their own in the winter, but in the summer you just have to pair them with ice cream. Even if it's an open-faced ice cream sandwich or cookies crumbled over ice cream.


It's not too late for you, though! You can fulfill my dream of a scoop of delicious brown butter ice cream sandwiched between two hazelnut milk chocolate cookies. 

Or, you know, just make these cookies. That's good, too. 


Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies

227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
340 g brown sugar
113 g granulated sugar
2 eggs
12 g vanilla extract
5 g salt
397 g flour
6 g baking soda
5 g baking powder
225 g good quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
225 g hazelnuts


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread your hazelnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment and roast them for 6 to 7 minutes, until they are fragrant and the skins are dark brown. Remove from the oven, cool completely, and rub the skins off using a kitchen towel or your hands. Roughly chop the hazelnuts. Set aside.

Turn the oven down to 325 F.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle until the butter is fluffy. Add both the sugars and beat until combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour to the butter-sugar mixture until completely combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no dry ingredients that have settled there.

Add the hazelnuts and chocolate chunks and mix by hand until evenly spread out in the cookie dough. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Portion the dough into 35 g balls. You can go bigger or smaller than this, it is just my ideal cookie size. Place the dough balls on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven, let cool completely.

Enjoy!

Lemon Raspberry Macarons


Ever since I arrived in Tofino, I have been asked by pretty much everybody, "Do you surf?". 

If you're not familiar with Tofino, it's a surfing town. Yep, a surfing town on the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC. 

People come to Tofino specifically to surf, especially in the summer. Tourists come for lots of reasons, but surfing is usually one of them. On any given day, rain or shine, 6 in the morning or 9 at night, you'll see dozens of surfers out on the water. 

So, I finally decided to give it a go.


The lodge I work at offers surf lessons (as does almost every other resort here) and they were offering free lessons for staff one evening. Despite being super nervous about the freezing cold Pacific water, I signed up. I mean, I had been in Tofino for three and a half weeks and I hadn't tried surfing yet. People were shocked.

There were a few other staff coming along that had been surfing a few times but wanted an actual lesson on it. That left me as the only one who hadn't surfed (I'm not counting the time when I was 13 because I don't think I even stood up on the board).

We got kitted out in our wetsuits, grabbed our boards, and walked to the beach. It was a miserable, rainy, windy day but the waves were nice and small - good for beginners like me.



"I'm going to get hypothermia and die." I thought as we neared the edge of the water. 

I braced myself for the numbing cold and stepped into the water. Nothing. I felt the sensation of the water, but it wasn't cold. The water was now up to my shins. Still good. Hips, waist, stomach, chest. Not bad at all. It wasn't warm, but I wasn't shivering or losing feeling in my toes.

I caught a wave after a few minutes, paddled like mad, shakily stood up, and promptly fell off. I was tumbled around in the shallow water for a second or two and felt the cold water sneak into my hood and through my wetsuit. I popped up out of the water facing the shore and looked behind me, just in time to get hit in the face with a wave. I emerged sputtering and squinting from the salt water.

"This is awesome!" I thought as I smiled from ear to ear, seaweed clinging to my face.



Repeat that scene about 40 times for the next two hours and you've got my Thursday evening. It's not easy and I think I only had about three successful pop-ups (when you stand up on the board correctly) but I had an absolute blast. I don't know why I waited so long to try it! I understand why people wake up at 5am on their day off and go surfing in the rain. I understand why people get a job in Tofino solely for the chance to go surfing all summer (or winter). 

The only downside is the aching. You don't realize how much exercise you're doing but it really is hard work. Paddling, standing up and balancing on a board in the water, and walking back out to the waves for a couple hours. It's tough going. 

After the lesson, I went home, showered, and ate a burrito in bed in my pyjamas. I stood up to get ready for bed and just about fell on my face. My legs felt like jello. My arms were like noodles. Everything ached! Just standing upright was an effort.

Fast forward to 4am the next morning when I woke up for work and it was even worse. Then rolling out croissant dough at 5am and feeling like I couldn't even apply pressure to the rolling pin. Going up the flight of stairs to the dry pantry and feeling like I had to go on all fours like when I was a kid. Getting off work and going up the stairs to my room and actually going on all fours like when I was a kid. It's Sunday and I'm still sore and aching. 

But it's all worth it. I can't wait for the next staff surf lesson so I can go out again!







Lemon Raspberry Macarons
Recipes adapted from Bouchon Bakery

Lemon Curd
3.6 g silver leaf gelatin (1 1/4 sheets)
216 g eggs
216 g granulated sugar
216 g freshly squeezed lemon juice
280 g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice, at room temperature
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Raspberry French Buttercream
38 g granulated sugar
38 g granulated sugar
63 g egg yolks
75 g whole milk
250 g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature
12 g raspberry powder

Lemon Macarons
212 g almond flour/meal
212 g powdered sugar
82 g egg whites
90 g egg whites
zest of 1 lemon
236 g granulated sugar
158 g water

For garnish
5 g raspberry powder
Splash of water

First, make the buttercream. If you wish, the buttercream can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Take the buttercream out of the fridge thirty minutes before you need to use it and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow it to soften and then mix on low speed until it is the proper consistency.

Whisk 38 grams sugar and the yolks together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the milk and remaining 38 grams of sugar in a medium saucepan, set over 
medium heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar. When the milk is just below a simmer, remove 
the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, pour it into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pan and place over medium heat. Whisking constantly, bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 minute, lowering the heat if necessary to prevent the mixture from curdling. It should be very thick.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of a stand mixer. fit the mixer with a whisk attachment, turn the mixture to medium, and whisk for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is completely cool.

Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, to the egg yolk mixture. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed to re-emulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter. Check the consistency: if the buttercream is too loose to hod its shape, it should be refrigerated for a few hours to harden, then beaten again to return it to the proper consistency.

Add the raspberry powder and fold in by hand until completely combined. 

For the lemon curd, place the gelatin in a bath of ice water to soften.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk slowly, until the mixture begins to simmer. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk gently for 1 to 2 minutes to release steam and cool the curd slightly.

Remove the gelatin from the water, squeeze out excess water, and whisk it into the hot curd. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer. Using a Vitamix or an immersion blender, blend on low speed for a few seconds, then add the butter 2 to 3 pieces at a time, blending until incorporated. Add the zest and blend to incorporate. Let the curd cool to room temperature.

The curd can be used at this point or transferred to a covered container. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Start on the macarons. The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface with the long side facing you. Using a glass or bowl, trace the desired size of your macaroons (I used a 1.5 inch diameter for these). Make sure to leave 1 inch of space between them. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Add the lemon zest and stir until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and 
the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.

Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.

Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again.

Pipe the remaining macaron mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.

For the garnish, combine the raspberry powder and a splash of water and mix until there are no lumps. It should be liquidy. Using a pastry brush, dip it into the raspberry mixture and flick over half of the finished macarons until the desired look is created. This is very messy and will splatter raspberry water everywhere else. Let them dry for a few minutes.

Transfer the buttercream to the pastry bag with the 3/8 inch tip. Transfer the lemon curd to a pastry bag with the 3/8 inch tip. Remove the macarons from the parchment paper. Turn half of them over. Pipe a ring of buttercream, not quite reaching the edge of the macaron. Fill the hole with lemon curd. Top with a second macaron and gently press to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.

The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before seving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.


Charred Lemon Mousse with Earl Grey Cream and Lemon Sablé

Only two more days until I leave Vancouver and arrive in Tofino for my new job as a pastry cook. I have to say, I'm getting nervous. The past few weeks, I've been excited and optimistic, which is good. But now I'm starting to worry about the nitty-gritty things, like what my roommates rules on fridge space and should I bring my bench-scraper and do I really need to bring all my piping tips. The important stuff.

On the bright side, I won't be in the dorms. I'll be in a townhouse with three other people and sharing a room with another girl. It's still a 5 minute walk from work (and the beach) and it's got a proper living room and dining room. Awesome.

But, roommates. I've been lucky enough to have never had roommates. In university, the dorms were singles. After that, I moved out with my brother (he doesn't count as a roommate, I've lived with him for my whole life), and then a year and a half ago, I moved out on my own. 

I have

no idea

how to deal with strangers living in my living space.

I also love being alone. I love having me time, all the time. I like the quiet and calm of just me. I can dance and sing really terribly in my kitchen and no one says anything. I can put a dirty dish in the sink and say, "I'll clean it later" and then actually clean it later without feeling super guilty. 

Nevermind the fact that I will be going to bed at like 7pm because I have to wake up at 3:30 in the morning. That's going to be a change. Nowadays, I'm only going to bed at around 12 or 1 am.

The thing that I am most worried about has got to be my little kitty. I am keeping my apartment in Vancouver and he is staying there and being looked after by my boyfriend and dad (no kitties allowed in the staff accommodations). 

T

his cat is my baby. He's a super needy and clingy cat and has to be within 5 feet of me 98% of the time, if not sitting on chest with his face pressed against my cheek. I feel like a terrible cat-mom, leaving my baby for

four whole months

. It's not that my dad and boyfriend won't take good care of him, because they will, but they're not

meeee

. Ajax knows me, he loves me. No one is as good as me at being his cat-mom. I feel horribly guilty about this. Seriously. 

I also feel super guilty about leaving my boyfriend here in Vancouver, but I am not his cat-mom and he is pretty good at taking care of himself. But I am missing his birthday (again). Two years ago, I went to South Africa for two months and missed his birthday. Last year, we spent it together in Italy, which was wonderful, but now I am missing his birthday for the second time out of a possible three. Not a good girlfriend.

Don't worry about the blog, though, I will still be posting about once a week. In the past month, I have been working my butt off making things almost every day, photographing, editing the photographs, and writing up the recipes. Over 20 recipes are now stocked up. Whew. 

Charred Lemon Mousse with Earl Grey Cream and Lemon Sablé

Lemon Sablé

Recipe adapted from 

Elements of Dessert

73 g all-purpose flour

175 g cake flour

120 g butter, at room temperature

1/2 lemon, zested

1/2 vanilla bean

2 g salt

90 g icing sugar

18 g almond flour

50 g eggs

Earl Grey Cream

225 g heavy cream

1 tablespoon loose leaf earl grey tea (preferably cream of earl grey)

30 g powdered sugar

Charred Lemon Mousse

2 lemons

90 g sugar, divided

60 g egg yolks

50 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 lemon, zested

200 g heavy cream

For the sablé, sift the all-purpose and cake flour together.

Cream the butter, lemon zest, salt, icing sugar, and almond flour together on medium speed in an electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mix. Mix until a homogenous mass is obtained, about 2 minutes.

Stop the mixer, add the eggs and mix for a few seconds on low speed until the eggs are completely incorporated.

Stop the mixer, add the sifted flours, and mix for a few seconds, pulsing the mixer at first to keep the flour in the bowl. Mix just to obtain a homogenous mixture. 

Shape the dough into a flat square and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven 325 F.

Roll the dough out to a rectangle 3mm thick, then chill again until slightly firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the fridge and trim the edges to create straight edges. Cut into rectangles 4 inches by 1.5 inches. Place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. 

Bake the sable for 12 to 15 minutes, until there is only a slight bit of golden brown on the underside of the sablé. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

For the earl grey cream, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until just to a boil. Take off the heat, add the tea, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain into a bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate until completely cold, about 2 hours.

For the mousse, have your glasses ready in the fridge and a piping bag set up.

Whip the 200 g of heavy cream to medium peaks and set aside in the fridge.

For the charred lemons, a barbecue would be preferable. However, I have neither a barbecue, nor a griddle pan, nor even a gas stove. I used a frying pan over high heat to char my lemons. Any of the before mentioned things will work, though.

Heat a frying pan (or whatever you have) over high heat. Slice your two lemons in half and remove any seeds that are sticking out. Place the lemons in the hot pan, pressing them down to get an even char. Once they have a good amount of colour on them, about 1 minute, remove from the pan and set aside.

Once the lemons have cooled enough, squeeze the juice from them. You should have at least 55 g of lemon juice. If not, char another lemon.

Combine the lemon juice with 45 g of the sugar in a saucepan. Combine the egg yolks and remaining 45 g of sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Heat the lemon juice and sugar over medium heat and bring to just a boil. Temper into the egg yolks by pouring a small amount of the lemon juice into the yolks, whisking constantly. Slowly add the juice to the yolks, whisking constantly. Transfer back to the saucepan and bring the lemon juice-yolk mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly.

Immediately transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on medium-high speed until cool, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and the lemon zest and whip for 15 seconds more.

Gently fold in the whipped cream in two additions. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe the mousse into your desired glasses. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

To finish, place the cooled earl grey cream and icing sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. The cream will not whip to stiff peaks like a typical chantilly, it will only whip to soft peaks. Do not over whip the cream in an attempt to get stiff peaks (trust me, I tried). Whip the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. 

Place a sablé rectangle in the lemon mousse, then spoon or pipe the earl grey cream in. Top with a tiny pinch of earl grey tea, if you desire. Serve immediately.

Cookies and Cream Macarons


Growing up, Oreos were never that big of a deal to me. I had eaten them before and they were good, but we never had them in the cupboards at home. Out of sight, out of mind. Over the years, they were grouped into the "store bought cookies are nasty" category in my mind and then subsequently forgotten about.

Until I decided to make these.

A few months ago, I went to a cafe, had lunch, and had a few macaroons as well, one of them being cookies and cream. It was good, I liked it. I wanted to recreate it at home.

Fast forward a few months and I finally decide to go for it. I reluctantly bought a box of oreos from the store. I thought to myself, 

"I'm probably only going to need a few oreos for the recipe. What the hell am I going to do with the rest of them? I don't want to eat all of them..."

I resolved that I would just give them to my boyfriend. I started making the macarons, blitzed up a couple oreos for the ganache, and decided to eat one, because, well, someone had to eat them.

I was at a loss for words. It was... incredible. I quickly poured a glass of milk, dunked my oreo, and devoured the rest of it. I ate another oreo, and then another. 

"Oh my god, these are amazing. How did I forget about them? So many years wasted."

Long story short, the entire box of oreos was gone in less than 24 hours. I was like a goodie-two-shoes girl going off to university and trying alcohol for the first time, then getting blackout drunk. I had no control, no sense of limitations for how many oreos one person should respectably eat in one day.

I wish I could say I felt guilty after, but I really just felt happy. Even though I didn't have any oreos left, I had these macarons which were equally delicious. 






Cookies and Cream Macarons
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery

Oreo Ganache
260 g heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
260 g white chocolate, chopped
100 g finely crushed oreo cookies

Macarons
212 g (1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 tabespoons) almond flour/meal
212 g (1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) powdered sugar
82 g (1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons) egg whites
90 g (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) egg whites
1 vanilla bean 
236 g (1 cup + 3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
158 g (2/3 cup) water
10 g finely crushed oreos, for garnish


First, make the ganache.

Pour the cream into a saucepan and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod. Add the seeds and the pod to the cream. Over medium heat, bring to just a boil, then strain over the chopped chocolate. Wait a minute, then use a rubber spatula to slowly stir the mixture until it is completely smooth. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ganache and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface with the long side facing you. Trace four evenly spaced 2 1/4 inch circles along the top edge (these make large macarons, modify the size if you wish, but keep in mind, the baking time will be shorter). Make sure to leave 1 inch of space between them. Trace three circles below each of those four, to make 3 x 4 macarons. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.

Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at  time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.

Place the finely crushed oreos in a sieve and gently dust the tops of the macarons with the crumbs.

Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again.

Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.

For the filling, transfer the ganache to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. On medium speed, whip the ganache until lighter and it holds a soft peak. Be very careful not to overwhip it, as it will separate and become grainy. Fold in the chopped oreos. Transfer to a piping bag with a 1/2 inch tip.

Remove the macarons from the parchment paper. Turn half of them over. Starting in the center, pipe 15 g/1 tablespoon of ganache in a spiral pattern on one upside down macaron, not quite reaching the edges. Top with a second macaron and gently press to spread the ganache to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.

The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before seving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.






Caramelized Hazelnut Macarons


You ever have those aspirations and dreams and hopes of doing something? You know it'll be hard, but whatever, you can totally do it because you're different than the rest! You're awesome!

And then you do those things and it way harder than you ever imagined and you feel very un-awesome. 


Let's talk new jobs. New jobs are always hard. You're the new kid, the rookie, the one that doesn't know where anything is. Everyone knows each other and you're just the awkward kid standing at the edge of their circle. You're overeager to prove yourself and you try too hard and you're too nice because you just want to do a good job. 


Despite all your best intentions, you don't know what you're doing most of the time. You try to do things how you think they should be done, but it's never really spot-on. You feel embarrassed every time you get corrected, no matter how nicely you get corrected. 


You beat yourself up and go home upset, hoping that you'll make less mistakes than yesterday. But you still make lots of mistakes.

No matter what job you're in, I feel like that describes everyone at a new job. Or maybe it's just me. But I really think (hope) that everyone else feels like I do.


I know that the only way to learn is by making mistakes. And I know that I'm new to the entire industry that I'm in as well as the position I'm in. I'm new to everything about my new job. So, of course, I'm going to make a ton of mistakes. It's unavoidable.

But I just thought I'd be better than I'm doing now. I'm disappointed in myself, you know? I feel like after a month, that rookie phase would start to fade away, but it's still there.

All I can do is keep on doing my best and learning from my mistakes, I know that. The food industry is renowned for being a tough and merciless place, so I just have to develop a thick skin.  

I just hope no one from work reads my blog or else I'm going to look like a big whiner.


Sara over at Tried and Twisted has been kind enough to host myself and several other macaron-makers on her blog. Head over to her blog to check out the other beautiful and delicious macarons made by other bloggers!


Praline Paste
300 g hazelnuts
150 g sugar
50 g water

Hazelnut French Buttercream
38 g granulated sugar
38 g granulated sugar
63 g egg yolks
20 g praline paste
75 g whole milk
250 g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature

Macarons
212 g almond flour/meal
212 g powdered sugar
20 g praline paste
82 g egg whites
90 g egg whites
236 g granulated sugar
158 g water

Caramelized Hazelnut Garnish
A dozen hazelnuts or so
250 g sugar
50 g water


For the praline paste, preheat your oven to 350 F. Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and spread your hazelnuts on the sheet in an even layer. Roast the nuts for about 5 to 6 minutes, until they are fragrant and the skins are dark brown. Remove from the oven, let them cool, and rub the skins off using your fingers or a kitchen towel. 

Before you add them to the caramel, warm them in the oven quickly so they are warm to the touch but not roasted further. You want to add warm nuts to the caramel to prevent the caramel from seizing.

Prepare a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet and set it aside close to the stove.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and the water over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Gently swirl the pot if you need to, but try to disturb it as little as possible. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high and caramelize the sugar, then add the warm hazelnuts and quickly stir to cover the nuts with caramel, then spread on the silicone baking mat in an even layer. Let them cool completely.

Using a blender or food processor, grind up the caramelized nuts to a paste. Try to get it as fine as possible without breaking your blender/food processor. Store in an airtight container  for up to 2 weeks.

Then, make the buttercream. If you wish, the buttercream can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Take the buttercream out of the fridge thirty minutes before you need to use it and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow it to soften and then mix on low speed until it is the proper consistency.

Whisk 38 grams sugar and the yolks together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the milk and praline paste in a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, and stir to disperse the paste. When the milk is just below a simmer, remove the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, pour it into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pan and place over medium heat. Whisking constantly, bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 minute, lowering the heat if necessary to prevent the mixture from curdling. It should be very thick.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with a whisk attachment, turn the mixture to medium, and whisk for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is completely cool.

Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, to the egg yolk mixture. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed to re-emulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter. Check the consistency: if the buttercream is too loose to hod its shape, it should be refrigerated for a few hours to harden, then beaten again to return it to the proper consistency.

The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Trace the desired size of your macarons using whatever you can find, such as a glass or cup. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Mix in the praline paste until evenly combined. Set aside.

Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.

Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at  time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.

Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again.

Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.

Transfer the buttercream to the pastry bag with the 3/8 inch tip. Remove the macarons from the parchment paper. Turn half of them over. Starting in the center, pipe 15 g/1 tablespoon of buttercream in a spiral pattern on one upside down macaron, not quite reaching the edges. Top with a second macaron and gently press to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.

The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before seving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

For the garnish, if you wish to make it, preheat your oven to 350 F. Roast your hazelnut for 5 to 6 minutes until they are fragrant and the skins are dark brown. Remove from the oven and remove the skins using your fingers or a kitchen towel.

Using toothpicks or skewers, gently insert a toothpick/skewer into the hazelnut. Do this with all the nuts.

Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat and set it near the stove.

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. Dissolve the sugar and increase the heat to medium-high and caramelize the sugar. Once it has caramelized, take it off the heat. You do not want to use it right away because the consistency will be too thin. Wait a few minutes until the caramel has cooled a little and has thickened up. 

Take a hazelnut by the toothpick handle and dip it into the caramel. If all the caramel slides off, it's still too thin. You want the caramel to slowly ooze off the nut. Find a way to keep the toothpick handle in a steady position over the silicone baking mat that will let the excess caramel drip off, creating a 'tail' to the nut. I used my dutch oven and the lid to keep it over the silicone baking mat. 

Alternatively, you can simply dip the nut and place it on the silicone mat, which will have no tail.

Once the caramelized nuts have cooled completely, gently twist out the toothpick. Do not store the caramelized nuts in the fridge. Store in a dry place for about a day.