For the past couple of days I have been experimenting with cookies made in springerle molds. I first discovered springerle molds in December when there was an article about them in a magazine. As soon as I saw a picture of the molds, I knew immediately that I had to have some.
Yesterday we went to Madison and stopped at Whole Foods to do a little shopping. Just walking around that store makes a person feel happy. The produce department looks like a work of art. They have a wide variety of cheeses and they usually have samples out so that you can try them. After that, it’s on to the pastries and breads. A couple of weeks ago we bought a blood orange vanilla cake that was really beautiful and tasted really good. This week the flourless chocolate cake caught my eye and I was debating whether or not to buy it when I decided that I would go home and make one myself. After all, I had just purchased a ten pound block of chocolate from Williams and Sonoma a few hours earlier and my mouth was watering for chocolate.
I’m pretty boring when it comes to chocolate. I am happy to stay in my little rut of eating 60% dark chocolate. Most other chocolates really don’t even tempt me at all. I can be around milk chocolate all day long and I not feel any desire to eat it, and the same goes for white chocolate. However, there are a few people around me who do not share my obsession with 60% chocolate so occasionally I do force myself to try some recipes that appeal to others.
A while ago I tried a recipe for blonde brownies and I have to say that it was a really good recipe and I have made it several times. The brownies have white chocolate and white chocolate chips in them. Usually the recipe calls for coconut but some people in my family are a little unsure about the coconut which we usually leave out. I was wanting to make something to send to my son in Belgium and since he did not get my chocoholic gene, I decided that I would make him blonde brownies. I decided to leave out the coconut but to add macadamia nuts.
Here in the midwest we are having a cold spell. For the last two days the schools have been closed because of severe temperatures and weather warnings. Last night it reached –22 degrees. So, when I was trying to decide what I should experiment with, a recipe for a dipped confection called “hot chocolates” caught my eye. This confection has a cinnamon marshmallow atop a dark chocolate ganache. It required curing overnight so I made it the other day and today I dipped them.
I am still having some difficulty in getting dipped chocolates to look neat and beautiful. However, I tried dipping some round chocolates and some square chocolates. I ran out of tempered semisweet chocolate and when I began to temper some more semisweet, I got thinking that I might prefer these dipped in milk chocolate instead. In the end, I think the milk chocolate ones taste the best. The milk chocolate also seemed to dip better too and I’m not sure if I need to adjust the temperature on my machine or what. I will have to do some more experimenting and reading on that.
Last week I decided to try making a butter ganache filling because they are supposed to last longer than a regular ganache. I looked through my book and decided to try making the lemon butter ganache. The only problem was that one of the ingredients was fondant. I have never made confectioner’s fondant before, in fact I had never even heard of it before. But I really wanted to try this recipe so I figured I would need to figure it all out.
So one day early last week I made the fondant. I was really nervous about it because it required agitating it at the end and I didn’t exactly know what to expect and didn’t know how to know if I was doing it correctly. But I decided I would just jump right in and see what happened. It actually went very smoothly. After I had poured it on the marble slab and agitated it for about 10 minutes, it began to get opaque and very thick. Then all of a sudden, it seemed like it turned into a rock. I was afraid I had ruined it. I knew it had to cure overnight so I was just hoping that it would soften up overnight. I decided it felt lumpy and so I massaged the lumps out of it and it seemed a better texture after that. I put it into a container and left it overnight. The next day Marshall sampled it and it was very smooth. So I was hopeful that it turned out the way it was supposed to.
Chocolate curls are such a fun thing and I have thought that they would be fun to put on top of a cake. So I watched a video on how to make them and set about to do it on my own. I made a cinnamon ganache chocolate cake to put them on and we really enjoyed it. I like my chocolate curls. In fact, I was having so much fun making them that I made way too many and so now I have lots extra to do something else with. Hmm….now what could I make?
Since it is a new year, I thought that I should make something new, unlike anything I have ever tried before. What I decided on was Madeleine cookies. Madeleines are something that I have admired for a long time and had a desire to try but never have. Once I watched a Julia Childs video about making the darling little things, but still I never ventured out to do it. The biggest thing stopping me was that I didn’t have a pan. I have looked a few times but could never decide whether I wanted mini madeleines or regular madeleines. I also did not know if I should get a nonstick or regular pan. Decisions, decisions. . . and that is why I never bought one.
I have had my eye on a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine called Chocolate Dipped Caramallows. Marshall saw the recipe and it reminded him of his favorite See’s chocolate which has caramel on the bottom with marshmallow on the top, then dipped in chocolate.
Today Marshall decided to try making sugared orange peel. Here is what he did:
Cut the orange peel into strips and remove the excess pith. Put it in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then drain it. Do this two more times. In another pan, make a simple syrup using equal parts of water and sugar and bring to a boil. (Marshall used 3 cups each of water and sugar.) Add the orange peel and then simmer for about an hour, when the orange peel starts to get transluscent. Cool the orange peel in the syrup and then drain on a rack until tacky and mostly dry. At this point you can roll it in sugar.