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Everything posted by kthull

  1. I've finally settled on my list for this year: Caramel Nut Acorns (recipe earlier in this thread) Snickerdoodles Cherry Swirls Ricotta Cookies Ruth Moulton's Spice Balls Sour Cream Sugar Cookies Pine Nut Tassies (December Gourmet) Chocolate Cookies (December Gourmet) Caramel Pecan Cookies (December Gourmet) Plus desserts.
  2. Yes rickster...that's the one. I also did the eggnog creme brulee last year (also on the site) and it was out of this world. And I adapted an eggnog ice cream recipe into an eggnog cheesecake the year before...really tasty with a butter rum sauce. I'll making some mascarpone in a few minutes and hope to whip up a test version of the trifle tomorrow. I'll be making my own ladyfingers today too. Question on the chocolate leaves...I have a relatively-young lemon tree at home, but the leaves aren't quite big enough and it might look a little naked if I steal 40 or more leaves from it (in all, I'd be making three trifles). What could I use in it's place? Fake leaves? I can't see them giving the right vein to the chocolate. Can lemon leaves be purchased at a florist? Or for that matter, are there other safe leaves that I might be able to buy from a florist? Thanks! I only see great reviews on epicurious.com...I'll be sure to post my comments here as well.
  3. I'll be giving that eggnog tiramisu from Bon Appetit a shot for Christmas. I was excited to see that recipe because I love eggnog flavor and like to find different takes on it each year. I was going to do an eggnog bread pudding until I saw that one. That plus a host of cookies, some new and some old standby's. Around here, there are before and after Christmas dinners too...for those I'll be trying the Schwartzwalder torte from Gourmet and the lemon chiffon with cranberries from Bon Appetit.
  4. My kids got one of those crappy little toy cotton candy makers. It works better with superfine sugar and I don't see any opportunity to flavor it afterwards, so as Wendy mentioned, it would need to be flavored beforehand. Savory cotton candy? Interesting. I'd imagine any flavor-infused superfine sugar might work, though you'd probably need to run your flavored sugar in a processor to break up any small clumps that might have been incorporated in the flavoring process. The toy does work with regular sugar, but it has a lower yield and there's more build up around the sides/middle.
  5. Part of the problem with these school parties is there's only a short amount of time and from what I hear, it's enough of a challenge to get all the treats passed out and do something as a group. I think these "room moms" would kill me if I handed off a bunch of cookies and decorations and said, "Have a blast kids. See ya later!"
  6. Thanks everyone for your opinions...I really appreciate it. Sadly, I'm changing my plans. You've all hit on the coolest part of all, the actual decorating. But this is only a dropoff so I would only be able to supply already finished individual houses. Not so much fun. Now I'm leaning toward either meringue snowmen or more cookies on a stick. Unless anyone has other ideas! I'm trying to top my Halloween trays of bloody fingers and eyeballs.
  7. Forgot about the pignoli! If anyone needs that (didn't have the Gourmet recipe), there was a great recipe last year from the King Arthur catalog. They were wonderful.
  8. Sorry I wasn't around last year, but I didn't see anyone produce a sour cream cutout recipe. I caught this in Midwest Living a couple years ago and I've been using it ever since. The dough needs to stay cold and its best if you work in small batches. Sour Cream Sugar Cookies 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda dash salt 1/2 cup sour cream 1 egg 1/2 tsp lemon extract 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour Beat butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, soda and salt; beat well. Beat in sour cream, egg and lemon extract. Beat in flour. Divide in half, cover and chill 1-2 hours. Roll out half the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies into desired shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet, 1 inch apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-7 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are light brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool. And I have one of my wife's grandmother's recipes that is practically a requirement every year: Caramel Nut Acorn Cookies 2-1/2 cups flour 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 cup butter 3/4 cup brown sugar 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 cup chopped pecans 1/2 lb caramel (about 28 pieces) 1/4 cup water 2 to 3 cups chopped pecans Sift flour and baking powder together in large bowl. Set aside. Melt butter in 2-qt saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients and hand mix to combine (will be somewhat crumbly). Shape dough into balls and flatten on bottom. Pinch top on ungreased cookie sheet. You have to work quickly because as the dough cools, it gets harder to work. Bake at 350º for 15 to 18 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Combine caramel and water in small heavy saucepan and heat over low heat until melted. Dip base of cookie into caramel, then into chopped pecans.
  9. I'm also a novice when it comes to chocolate, but I found the Callebaut 70% (not exactly sure on that percentage) extremely difficult to work with. Almost every time, even at the most gentle heating, the oils would separate out. I was only able to use it for mousses or other applications where the chocolate was not the main ingredient (like ganache). The Callebaut milk chocolate was divine, though it never made it into any recipes. I have since picked up a batch of Schokinag's bittersweet, but haven't had time to do much more than break off a few big chunks and eat it. As for different kinds/brands, I definitely will go for the more intense chocolates for desserts that will benefit from it. A nice dark Vahlrona has a great complex flavor that is wonderful for adding dimension when paired with a lighter, sweeter chocolate. And I usually mix two intensities of chocolate when making my ganaches.
  10. I'm thinking about making either a gargantuan gingerbread house or (most likely) mini-gingerbread houses for the school holiday party this year. But my wife is convinced that most kids don't like gingerbread. Anybody have thoughs on this? I know I loved it as a kid and both my little ones do too. Thanks!
  11. I thought Herme's recipe with Ligurian Olive Oil was incredible. The only hard part was finding the right oil. The Ligurian is definitely not your average oil...very light. I could imagine some of the regularly available oils might harm a recipe with their heavier taste.
  12. Hi all. I tried a search and got overwhelmed so I hope I don't offend by posting a new thread. I've come across a 3-liter bottle of a 2000 Gigondas, Domaine les Pallieres. I have to say that I am in no way, shape or form a wine conneisseur, so I'm curious if anyone has tasted this vintage and has anything to offer. From what I've read elsewhere online, I haven't gotten much of a sense in what I should expect taste-wise, if I should save it, etc. All I really got was that ownership changed hands a few years back and the wines suffered, but are "back on their way to greatness" ... whatever that means! I do appreciate a good wine. For reds, my preference is Cabernet or a good Merlot. I've not been a big fan of the big earthy reds, so if that's what I have in my possesion, I'd rather find someone who would appreciate it more, especially this large of a bottle. But if I have a new experience awaiting me, then I would love to serve this at Thanksgiving. Thanks so much!
  13. I have a love/hate relationship with chocolatesource. From what I've seen, they have the biggest selection and best prices. And, a lot of sites you'll find are just affiliate sites of chocolatesource. But they seem to have an inventory management problem (maybe due to the fact that they are not the only ones selling their inventory), so you have to baby sit your order and only order when you have a couple weeks of cushion. That's been my experience, maybe others have had better luck. I still go back to them, but now only if I can wait.
  14. Sounds like I'll be trying the shortening idea Wendy. (Don't know what I was thinking when I said corn syrup ) Thanks a bunch everyone for your input.
  15. Coconut snow sounds cool, but they like the chocolate. Frankly, I thought peanut butter + white chocolate would be weird, but it was actually rather nice. Not too sure about peanut butter and coconut though...
  16. For Halloween, I did a few trays of eyeballs: peanut butter eyeballs coated in white chocolate and decorated. Well, I'm still a bit weak in my chocolate tempering and I didn't have time for practicing, so I chose the white candy melts. The taste was decent and the audience was kids, so I wasn't worried on that end. More importantly, the color was genuinely white, not the pale yellow of white chocolate. What really sucked is that it was like dipping the balls into pudding. It was horrible to work with. Now the dilemma: I already received a request for the peanut butter balls for Christmas, decorated to look like snowmen (cool idea...wish I thought of it). But I don't want to use the candy melts. And I don't want yellow "snow" (gross!). Is there whiter white chocolate? I've only tried out a couple brands, Ghirardelli and Callebaut to be specific. The Callebaut is whiter than the Ghirardelli, but still yellowish compared to the candy melts. Or is there a way to whiten white chocolate? I thought as a worst case, I could experiment thinning the candy melts with corn syrup, but I'm not too keen on that idea either. Thanks!
  17. Alana & Wendy, thanks so much for the tips!
  18. Looking for some advice on a Dulce de Leche cheesecake. I'd bake off an experimental version, but I won't have time on this one so I'm hoping someone can verify my thought process: 1. Either basic graham cracker crust or chocolate wafer crust (leaning toward graham cracker) 2. I'll make the real dulce de leche posted elsewhere on eG (not the condensed milk kind) 3. Spread a layer of dulce on top of the crust 4. Mix some dulce into a basic batter...not too much, but to give a caramel undertone, because 5. Swirl some dulce into the batter 6. When finished, I plan to spread the caramel on the sides of the cheesecake and press in toasted cashew pieces 7. Probably caramelized sugar decorations inserted into the end of each slice Ok, so questions: 1. Will the bottom caramel layer burn? Or will baking it somehow prevent it from setting up and have the cake just slide off the crust? 2. Am I better off not trying the caramel batter? Never did one before; couldn't find a recipe, though it seems like it should work. I'm figuring on mixing the cream that would have gone into the batter into warm caramel and subbing that instead of just the cream. 3. Do you think it's too over the top? I've had dulce ice cream that's caramel swirls in a caramel ice cream, so that was kind of where I was headed. Thanks!
  19. Michael, I have noticed that a few active Pastry & Baking forum members are in the Chicago area. As for me, I live in Carpentersville and commute to Chicago twice a week. So if you are ever in search of both professionals and non-professionals to test any new mold product aimed at actually baking in, I am sure you'd have more than a few volunteers right here.
  20. According to the owner's manual for my 6-quart (which I love, but I've never experienced the 5-qt): "Use Speed 2 to mix or knead yeast doughs. Use of any other speed creates high potential for unit failure." MichaelB, maybe that's why you keep burning out your gear box.
  21. Michael, I'm sure some of us Chicagoland "locals" would be willing to help you test anything you make!
  22. Mottmott, it's called StirChef and you can read more about it at www.stirchef.com. As for whether it works...no idea. The site doesn't sell the product, but does list where you can purchase it. If you get it, let us know how it does the job!
  23. I'm with Suzanne on this one. I tried a bunch of sugar substitutes (Splenda, Sommersweet, Stevia) that tasted funny to me, were cost prohibitive to use 1-for-1, were way too sweet, or just plain didn't work. Then I came across Whey Low. You use it 1-for-1 in baking, it's not nearly as sweet as some of the others and it's also not nearly as expensive. The only correction you make in your baking is to reduce the oven temp by 25 degrees since it browns quicker than sugar. They sell a powdered version, granular, brown (kinda tan, but the taste is there) and a version for ice cream. It's been ok'd for diabetic use, but they also have a version for even stricter diabetes limitations (a little loose on my facts here...forgive me). I've baked cakes with it. I've caramelized it. I made Italian meringue with it. It basically works just like sugar, but you need to tweak your temp a bit. The only thing I'm not crazy about is using it for non-baked items. It stays a bit grainy in a mousse or whipped cream. I suspect that's the reason for the ice cream version, but I tried that and it was still a bit grainy and when not cooked, seemed sweeter than if I had used regular sugar. Anyway, I think the stuff is great and you can read more about it at www.wheylow.com. I've gone through more than 15 pounds of the stuff already, mostly playing around and casual baking, and I keep coming back for more. The other junk is still sitting in the cabinet.
  24. For what it's worth, I was recently contacted by Michael Joy. He has recently published a 380 page instructional manual (with 1350 photographs) about silicone mold making for pastry chefs. The book was just released in Las Vegas at the World Pastry Forum. The book is titled, Confectionery Art Casting, Silicone Mold Making for Pastry Chefs. It can be purchased online at http://www.claroartstudio.com/book/book.htm
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