dessert

Pistachio Madeleines

I’ve been on a huge pistachio and almond butter kick lately. I’ve been spreading the stuff on apples, rice cakes, celery– just about anything crunchy and healthy. I love these two nut butters because they’re made of 100% nuts, they’re a great source of protein, and they remind me of my younger days spooning peanut butter straight from the tub without having a care in the world (guilty: I’ve done this with almond butter). But when I was browsing my Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery cookbook, I couldn’t help but be tempted to make pistachio madeleines. The recipe calls for pistachio paste, which is a little more concentrated than regular pistachio butter, but I thought I’d try my luck with what I had on hand, and boy, did these babies come out delicious. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

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What is a Madeleine?

No, she’s not your favorite British cartoon character, Madeleines are cake-like cookies baked in a madeleine pan, which each mold resembles a sea shell. They’re light, pillowy, not too sweet and down-right delicious. Traditional Madeleines have a buttery, vanilla-y flavor, but the addition of pistachio butter (which I had never had before) gives them a nutty, earthy flavor and bit of a heartier texture.

Where can I find pistachio butter?

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Working at a food magazine has its perks, one of them being, well, free food! I was lucky enough to score this jar of pistachio butter at work after we had conducted our “Best Nut Butters Taste Test.” However, you can find this stuff in most grocery stores these days, but when all else fails, I’d suggest Whole Foods.

Where can I find Madeleine pans?

Any home goods store (Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, etc.). They look like this:

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If possible, get a non-stick one. It will make your life a lot easier.

Okay time to get to the (very specific) recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp AP flour

3/8 tsp baking powder

1/78 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup + 1 tsp eggs (it’s a little more than one egg, beaten)

3 tbsp + 2 tsp granulated sugar

1.9 ounces unsalted butter (it’s a little less than 4 tbsp)

2 tsp dark brown sugar

1 1/8 tsp honey

3 tbsp pistachio butter

DIRECTIONS

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the eggs and granulated sugar and mix with a handheld or stand mixer on medium-high for about one minute to dissolve the sugar. Increase the speed to high and whip for about 4 minutes, until the batter has doubles in volume and has lightened in color.

Heat the butter, brown sugar and honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar, about 1 minute. Remove fro the heat.

Gently fold half the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, then fold in the remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the warm butter mixture over the batter and fold until the batter is smooth.

In a small bowl, microwave the pistachio butter for 15-30 seconds until it has loosened up a bit. Add 1/4 of the madeleine batter to the pistachio butter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining batter. Cover your bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to one day.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a paper towel, rub room temperature butter into each of the madeleine molds and freeze the pan to harden the butter.

Spoon about 1 generous tablespoon of batter into each mold, spreading it so that it covers most of each mold. Bake for 7-9 minutes, keeping a close eye. The cookies will be done when a toothpick comes out clean when stuck into the middle. Let sit in molds for a few minutes then place them on a cooling rack.

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The cookies are just delicious on their own, but if you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth just a liiiiitle bit more, you can glaze them like I did:

Just combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 1-2 tablespoons milk of your choice (I used vanilla almond milk) until all the sugar has dissolved. Once the cookies are cool enough to handle, spoon the glaze over them and return them to the cooling rack to let the extra glaze drip off.

I wanted to get more adventurous so I dipped a few of the madeleines in Nutella glaze (YOLO). The nuttiness of the cookies pairs perfectly with the chocolate-hazel-nuttiness of the Nutella. As Rach would say, YUM-O.

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Bluth’s Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

In honor of the season four airing of Arrested Development, I wanted to create a dish that would truly honor and please any Arrested fan. Bluth’s banana stand has been an iconic part of the series since episode one. But I must admit, watching the Bluth family members chow down on those jailhouse ice cream sandwiches gets to my cravings just as much as the bananas. So I decided to create a recipe that would combine the two. Behold: a chocolate dipped banana ice cream sandwich. Once you’ve breezed through season four, this dessert will really fill the Arrested void in your life. And even if you’re not a fan of the show, there’s no reason why you, too, can’t enjoy some homemade ice cream sandwiched between two crunchy graham crackers coated in rich chocolate.

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INGREDIENTS (makes 8)

4 very ripe bananas

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ cup honey

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1 cup plus 5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, separated

8 graham crackers

9 ounces semisweet chocolate

DIRECTIONS

Place bananas in the freezer overnight. Remove bananas from freezer and allow to thaw for 1 hour. Peel bananas and place in a food processor with the lemon juice. Process for 10-15 seconds. Add honey and vanilla bean seeds and turn the processor on. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the heavy cream and process until smooth. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

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Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to your maker’s instructions. Line a baking dish with tin foil or wax paper and place half the graham crackers on the bottom. Once the mixture is thick but still soft, scoop 1 ice cream scoop’s worth onto the bottom half of the graham crackers. Top each sandwich with the other half and freeze the sandwiches for 3 to 6 hours, until the ice cream is firm.

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Before you take the sandwiches out of the freezer, stir the chocolate and 5 tablespoons heavy cream in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water until smooth. Cool the mixture until lukewarm. Remove the sandwiches from the freezer and cut in half, at the perforated lines. Working with 1 sandwich at a time, dip half of the sandwich into the melted chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.

Place all sandwiches on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and return to the freezer. Freeze until chocolate sets and freezes, about an hour. Wrap each sandwich individually in foil and keep frozen until ready to serve. Enjoy!

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Sunday Afternoon Tea at Sisters Tearoom

I know it has been months since I last blogged, but now as a funemployed college graduate- yes, I said funemployed- I finally have some time on my hands. After an exciting annual trip to Blossom Music Center for my all-time favorite concert, Dave Matthews Band, last night, I woke up this morning in desperate need of some sustenance. I spent the afternoon with my mom at Sisters Tearoom in Mentor, Ohio, and let me tell you, my stomach- and my soul- is very satisfied.

After having years of catering experience, two sisters, Julia and Teresa, wanted to try their luck with a tearoom. They’ve been in business since March 2013, and they’ll be glad to tell you business is booming.

The house itself is the epitome of cute. Each of the three dining rooms is full of tables with mismatched teacups, saucers, water glasses and table cloths, not to mention antique artwork, old family photos and little trinkets that you would never be able to buy anymore. Hues of pink and green align the wallpaper and drapery, and like I said, none of the place settings match with each other, which I love.

The "Dining Room"

The “Dining Room”

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Mismatched!

Although there is a full a la carte menu, my mom and I went the traditional route and had the afternoon tea menu, which included one scone, four tea sandwiches, four mini desserts and a pot of tea each, for only $15! There is also a high tea menu which includes soup and salad, but I couldn’t fathom the thought of any more food than we were given.

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All of the food came out together on traditional stacked tea plates. Up top were the scones- soft and warm, clearly fresh out of the oven, served with homemade lemon curd and clotted cream. The flavor of the day was lemon poppy seed, which paired perfectly with the tart yet sweet curd. On bottom were our tea sandwiches. We chose four sandwiches each out of six, and ironically, my mom and I chose the same four (I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree). I had an open faced cucumber sandwich with green goddess cream cheese and dill, a mild curried chicken salad with grapes on a croissant, a roast beef sandwich with horseradish mayo on a cheese roll and an open faced egg salad sandwich on a piece of bread cut out in the shape of a star. Each sandwich was flavorful, properly dressed and delicious. I think my favorite was the curried chicken salad sandwich, not only because I love curry so much but because the combination of savory curry with sweet red grapes on a buttery croissant was just divine. It was also the biggest sandwich, which is never a bad thing.

For dessert we had a selection of light as air chocolate cake with a chocolate sauce drizzled over the top, sweet  pineapple upside down cake- maraschino cherry and all, a dense and delicious coconut macaroon, and, my personal favorite, a lemon-lavender cake with the perfect flavor balance between the two star ingredients. Sometimes lavender desserts can be a bit overpowering, but this cake was perfection.

And you can’t have afternoon tea without a pot of piping hot tea, now can you? With a selection of over a dozen teas, I went with a maple blackberry tea. It had just the right amount of fruity and sweet notes, and since I like my tea extra sweet, I was delighted to see the sugar cubes were actually shaped into little teapots and cups! I told you this place screams adorable.

Altogether my mom and I had an excellent experience at Sisters Tearoom, and I can only hope my funemployment streak goes on long enough that I will have a chance to return!

Sisters Tearoom
8595 Mentor Ave.
Mentor, OH 44060
(440) 290-6556

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

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One of my favorite parts about the holidays is the massive excuse I have to bake and eat to my heart’s desire. In particular, I love using holiday flavors such as cinnamon and ginger to create that true cozy-up-to-the-fireplace feeling. I have developed the most amazing recipe for chewy ginger spice cookies that will take you right back to your childhood days of coming inside after sledding, brushing the snow off your jacket, rosy cheeks and all, ready for a giant mug of hot cocoa and a plate of fresh cookies. These cookies are great for a holiday party, dunking in tea, or sandwiching around vanilla ice cream.

from top left clockwise: dry ingredients, crystallized ginger, the refrigerated dough, fresh cookies!

from top left clockwise: dry ingredients, crystallized ginger, the refrigerated dough, fresh cookies!

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves (I used just shy of a full teaspoon– cloves can be very overpowering!)

3/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature

1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 cup molasses

sugar, for rolling

DIRECTIONS

Combine first six ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening and butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat until blended. Add flour mixture and mix with a spatula until just blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or tin foil. Pour sugar into a small bowl. Form dough into 1 1/4-inch balls and roll in sugar to coat completely. Place balls on prepared sheets and slightly flatten with fingers, spacing two inches apart.

Bake cookies until cracked on top but still soft to the touch, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets and transfer to a cooling rack after 1 minute. Enjoy!

You won't be able to save these for Santa!

You won’t be able to save these for Santa!

PB&J: The Ultimate Food for Thought

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While studying tirelessly for finals, I decided my room mates and I needed a really rewarding treat to get us through the days of misery… I mean education. Alas, I have found Bon Appetit’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, and I’ll be the first to tell you that these things are addictive. Sweet berry preserves are sandwiched in between a chewy, buttery crust and crumble, topped with salty roasted peanuts. You almost feel as if you’re eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, just 100 times better. These bars are definitely the ultimate crowd pleaser, and provide the perfect sustenance to any studying student burning that midnight fuel. Note: I used blackberry jelly because that’s what I had in the fridge, but I would imagine raspberry, strawberry or grape would work wonderfully, too.

Foodie Gift Guide 2012

Since just about everyone and their mothers is making a gift guide this holiday season, I decided to hop on the bandwagon. Of course, all of my favorite and most lusted after gifts revolve around food, but each is specifically tailored to a different type of foodie or food lover. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to get your foodie friend one of these awesome gifts, and friends/ family if you’re reading this, please take the hint!

1. For the adventurous foodie who puts Sriracha on everything: KimKim, $10

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We all have that one friend who never thinks “spicy” is spicy enough. They may be addicted to sriracha, but I’ve found a new miracle sauce. KimKim is a Korean hot sauce made in Richmond, Virginia. I discovered this sauce at Union Market and after one sample, I was hooked. Its not as spicy as sriracha but has a hint of buffalo flavor. It’s perfect for dipping (plain or mixed with greek yogurt or sour cream), marinating (chicken, fish, steak, you name it) and drizzling over eggs, and your friend with the atomic palate will thank you dearly.

2. For the hardcore baker: Cuisinart Artisan Stand Mixer, Boysenberry, Williams-Sonoma, $349.95

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I have literally had this mixer on my wish list every year for the past 5 years. It does everything you could possibly ask out of a mixer, and if you get the right attachments, you could be making fresh pasta, ice cream and even juice! Your options are endless, and I love the boysenberry color for the holidays.

3. For the hardcore baker who has already baked their way through Martha Stewart and Carol Walters: Bouchon Bakery Cook Book, Amazon.com, $24.99

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I just purchased this book for myself and I’m already so excited to work my way through it. Bake some of Bouchon’s most popular pastries, cookies and breads, and you’ll feel like you’re learning from Thomas Keller himself!

4. For the student or YoPro in need of some lunch money: sweetgreen gift card, in stores or online, $15- $100

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Sweetgreen just introduced gift cards and as a hardcore sweetgreen fan, I felt particularly obliged to endorse them. If you live in the D.C. or Philly area, grab one for your friends, coworkers or teachers. They’ll definitely thank you for it.

5. For the mixologist: Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa

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This is the newest addition to the Patron family, and I’ll be the first to tell you it’s going to become the favorite child. On the rocks, mixed into coffee or a frappe, the dark cocoa flavor is present enough to satisfy your sweet tooth while still feeling like you’re sipping on something sophisticated and special.  Serve it at your holiday party, or just keep it for yourself on those cold winter nights.

6. For the chocolate lover: Whole Foods Peppermint Bark, $8.99

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I love this peppermint bark because it has just the right amount of white and dark chocolate compared to peppermint. Its easy to break into any size piece and is great for those nights after you’ve eaten a heavy meal but want something sweet. This bark is the sole reason I fell in love with mint-chocolate.

7. For the entertainer: C Wonder Snow Flake Coasters, $12

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How cute are these?! If you’re from the northeast you can probably get about 4-5 months of use out of these coasters before it becomes seasonally inappropriate. If you live on the west coast or in the south, these coasters will at least help you feel like you’re celebrating a white Christmas or the first snowfall.

8. For the foodie who basically has everything: Gourmet Attitude Truffle Honey, Gilt Taste, $19.95

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The first time I had truffle honey I was in Florence and I fell in love. I was so happy to see this product on Gilt Taste. It goes great on cheese with crackers, or even drizzled over ice cream. Plus, your friends will think you’re super sophisticated and well-traveled.

9. For the wino: Architect Air Dry Wine Glass Drying System, Amazon.com, $14.35

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 1.15.45 PMI found this product on BuzzFeed’s 30 Gifts for Winos, and I immediately ordered one for my dad- the ultimate wine connoisseur. Its sleek, portable, yet amazingly useful for drying wine glasses, and goes well in any kitchen or bar.

So there you have it- my nine favorite products of the season. Happy gifting, and happy holidays!

iScream for Ice Cream!

I know it’s December and barely anyone is thinking about ice cream, but personally, I could go for this frozen creamy goodness any day of the year. I have been lucky enough to inherit my friend’s ice cream maker for the semester while she is abroad, and let me tell you, it’s been the best accessory in my kitchen. So far I’ve made Alton Brown’s Banana Ice Cream and Simply Recipes’ Peppermint Ice Cream, and I predict an influx of more recipes in the near future as final exams approach (ice cream counts as a healthy, motivational study snack, right?). I know everyone is on the foodie instagram craze right now, but I must admit, ice cream looks particularly appetizing on this iPhone app. See for yourself, and try one of these sinfully rich and drool-worthy recipes soon!

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The banana ice cream had an insanely natural banana flavor- no banana extract necessary here! Despite having real mashed bananas in it, the texture was smooth and rich. I actually felt like I was eating something healthy!

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Now this is just an all-around holiday people pleaser. The ice cream is so custard-y and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I had to use a significant amount more of the peppermint extract than what the recipe called for, to get that true peppermint flavor. Adding crushed candy canes on top really makes this dessert special, beautiful and perfect for the holidays.