Category Archives: french

Peppermint Joy

photo-14

I wanted to bake for our family and friends for the holidays.  I went a little overboard with the peppermint theme and made candy cane cookies, peppermint brownies, and peppermint truffles.  Each of these recipes are great for the holidays.  I also made a trip to Michaels and found the perfect packaging.

Candy Cane Cookies:

photo-11

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup margarine
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring

Directions:

  1. Cream together margarine, white sugar, and powdered sugar.
  2. Beat in egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract.
  3. Combine with flour, and salt.
  4. Cover dough and chill for at least one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  6. Grease cookie sheets
  7. Divide dough into half
  8. Color one half of the dough with the red food coloring.
  9. Using half white dough and half red dough make candy canes.

10. Bake for 10 minutes.

photo-13

These cookies are so simple and a great holiday recipe.

Peppermint Brownies:

photo-12

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 (1.55 ounce) Milk chocolate bars, broken into chunks
  • 1 cup of chopped peppermint chocolate (found at whole foods)
  • ½ cup of crushed candy canes for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease and 8X12 baking pan.
  3. Using a double boiler melt unsweetened chocolate and margarine in bowl.
  4. Whisk until chocolate is melted and stir in sugar.
  5. Add eggs, extracts, and salt.
  6. Gradually add flour and stir until combined.
  7. Spread ½ the batter into the pan.
  8. Top batter with milk chocolate
  9. Add second half of batter.

10. Top with peppermint chocolate.

11. Bake for 35 minutes.

12. Top with crushed candy canes.

These were honestly one of the top brownies I have ever had.  I promise.  You need to give these a try!!!

Peppermint Truffles:

photo-9 photo-8

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces of good semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • ¼ cup of crushed candy canes
  • 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate using a double boiler.
  2. Whisk until smooth and mix in cream.
  3. Stir in peppermint extract and crushed candy canes.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. Roll chocolate into one-inch balls.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  7. Enjoy!

This was my first time making truffles and I will say that it was not as easy as I expected.  There are very messy, but worth it!  Happy Holidays!

Enjoy!,

Lizzie

French Apple Tart

Hello!


I apologize for not posting since July!  I know it has been a while since I have posted, but I have been busy. Halie and I have just started our freshman year at college.  We are on opposite sides of the country, but we continue to talk about food even though we have not blogged about it.  This weekend I was home for my fall break.  My parents had a couple of their friends over for dinner, and of course I was put on dessert duty.  I wanted to make something festive for fall so, I bought the food network magazine to read on my plane ride home.  I chose Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart because one can never go wrong with Ina right?  This tart was a hit and had everyone at the dinner table raving!  I highly suggest it, its very easy.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • ½ cup ice water

For the apples:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (my own addition)
  • 4 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • ½ cup apricot jelly
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Directions:

For the pastry:

  1. Place flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or blender (or mix all by hand).
  2. Pulse for a few seconds to combine
  3. Add butter and combine until butter is in small pieces
  4. Pour the ice water in parts until the dough starts to combine
  5. Make dough into a ball and refrigerate for 1 hour

For the apples:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Shape dough into the pan
  4. Peel, and core apples
  5. Slice apples and arrange in rows
  6. Mix sugar and pumpkin pie spice
  7. Dust apples with sugar mixture
  8. Dot apples with butter
  9. Bake for 1 hour until apples are golden on top

10. Heat jelly and water until they simmer

11. Once tart is out of the oven brush with apricot mixture

12. Serve warm or room temperature

Enjoy!,

Lizzie

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

My friend’s mom brought cupcakes to one of our lacrosse games this spring.  I saw a cupcake with green frosting and a chocolate cake.  I assumed it was a mint chocolate chip cupcake and I was right.  The cupcake was so good that I knew I needed to try to make them once I got home from boarding school.  Now that it’s summer I gave these a try and they were a hit!  I made chocolate cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook and a mint cream cheese frosting.  I then garnished the cupcakes with semi sweet chocolate chips.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcake:

  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

(This recipe makes 12 cupcakes)

Mint Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cups powered sugar
  • Green food coloring

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 3250F
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a bowl.
  3. Whisk the milk, egg, and vanilla together in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour half of milk mixture into flour mixture and combine with a mixer on medium.  Once combined, add the second half of the milk mixture and combine.
  5. Spoon batter into cupcake holes until the batter fills 2/3 of the cupcake pan.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is firm and a tooth pick comes out clean.

Make sure you let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them.

For the Frosting:

  1. Combine cream cheese, butter, and sugar in a bowl with a mixer on medium.
  2. Once fully combined add the peppermint extract and food coloring until the frosting is the green color you desire.

I love these and I hope you will as well!

Enjoy!,

Lizzie

Chocolate Mousse

This dessert totally sounds fancy (aka, French) and maybe a little intimidating….until you make it yourself. I’ve used this recipe three times already and I absolutely love it. Nothing could be simpler, and the results are delicious! You most likely have all the ingredients at home already — just make sure you’re using good quality chocolate because that’s what really makes the difference here.

Also, sorry for the terrible picture quality. They do not do this dessert justice. My lens spazzed out a little and wouldn’t focus, not even on manual. Ahh!

This recipe is from Cooking Up A Storm by Sam Stern. Awesome cookbook, by the way, with super easy/healthy recipes.

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 oz. good quality chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons strong black coffee (you can dissolve a teaspoon instant coffee powder in half a mug of hot water)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • pinch of salt

I thought this picture would help show the texture. It doesn’t really, because my camera is DUMB. You’re gonna have to trust me on this one.

Directions

  1. Separate the egg yolks: yolks in one large bowl, whites in another.
  2. Fill a saucepan, or the bottom pan of a double-boiler, one-third full of water. Bring to a very gentle simmer. Break the chocolate into the top pan of the double-boiler or a heatproof bowl big enough to fit into the saucepan without touching the water.
  3. Add the coffee and let the chocolate melt into the coffee slowly — too fast and hot and it will spoil. Stir twice with a wooden spoon to combine.
  4. Remove from heat. Working quickly, stir in the egg yolks.
  5. Add the butter and orange juice. Beat fast and furious until glossy.
  6. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until white and stiff but not dry.
  7. With a big metal spoon, fold the whites into the chocolate in figure-eight movements. Don’t overwork it; you want to keep the air in. The odd spot of white doesn’t matter.
  8. Spoon the mouse into dishes or cups. Chill for a couple of hours or longer.

Make this stuff now. Seriously. Go.

— Halie

Crème Brûlée, Cheddar Biscuits, and Chicken Tikka Marsala: What a Dinner!

A couple weeks ago as I was casually talking to my advisor at school, Mr. Browse, he mentioned that he had a gas torch for cooking.  I had never used a gas torch before but I knew it would be fun to make crème brûlée.  My advisor and I then decided to have a dinner at his house in which every advisee would contribute something.  The dinner menu was quiet scattered and did not really make sense together but we enjoyed it anyways!  Melody, a fellow advisee, made cheddar garlic biscuits.  Claudia and I made chicken tikka masala.  Although we only sautéed chicken and added the sauce it was still Claudia’s first real cooking experience other than making cereal!  She did very well.  We used Patak’s sauce, which can be found at any grocery store.

Advisee Dinner!

Look at Claudia go!

Melody’s Red Lobster Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
  • ¾ cup cold whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

Bush on Top

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • A pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don’t want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don’t over mix.
  3. Drop approximately ¼-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.
  5. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter is a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

(Recipe here.)

 

Crème Brûlée

Out of all the recipes for crème brulee out there I chose Ina Garten’s.


Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix egg, egg yolks, and sugar together with an electric mixer.
  3. Scald cream in a saucepan until it is very hot, but not boiling.
  4. While whisking the egg and sugar mixture pour in the hot cream.
  5. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  6. Place ramekins in a baking pan that has been filled with hot boiling water.
  7. Bake the custards for 40 minutes or until they are set.
  8. Cool to room temperature.
  9. Sprinkle sugar, about a tablespoon, on top of each ramekin and use the torch!  The sugar will caramelize; wait about 30 seconds after you have torched your crème brulee to touch the top with a spoon to make sure you have a hard sugary top.

You can find Ina’s recipe here!

Enjoy!,

Lizzie

French Macarons

I have a friend who, every so often, brings back delicious French macarons from one of her favorite bakeries in San Francisco. Turns out her least favorite flavors are some of my personal favorites (hazelnut and chocolate orange, to be exact), which means I usually end up with plenty of macarons of my own. They are perfectly chewy with just the right amount of sweetness, and eating a whole box is a relatively easy task.

Recently, I had a craving for macarons — not the bland American version with overbaked shredded coconut (called macaroons), but the French kind, with filling sandwiched between two chewy, melt-in-your-mouth cookies. I scoured the internet for recipes, but finally settled on one from an article in the April/May 2011 issue of Fine Cooking, from pastry chef Joanne Chang.

I think the original recipe, found here (along with a how-to video),  is supposed to yield many cookies, with a much crisper texture than I ended up with. This was probably the result of the substitutions I made in the recipe (I used flour instead of almond flour, which definitely made the cookies much more cookie-like and doughy and less like meringues). However, they did end up chewier, which just made them more to my liking.

I made three types of macaron cookies: vanilla (I didn’t have vanilla bean, so I added extract to the basic recipe), cocoa, and lavender (I added crushed dried lavender blossoms and a syrup made from steeping the blossoms in a small amount of hot water and saturating it with sugar). I paired the vanilla with a chocolate-orange ganache filling (I just used orange extract and it was delicious), the lavender with basic chocolate ganache, and the cocoa with hazelnut-chocolate ganache (bad idea on my part, because the crushed roasted hazelnuts in the filling tasted terrible after a day or two).

The Fine Cooking recipe also gives instructions on other cookie variations (such as almond, sesame, cinnamon, and black pepper), as well as more filling options (lemon curd, rosemary-lemon curd, vanilla buttercream, and espresso buttercream), but it’s pretty easy to experiment and come up with your own flavor twists.

Enjoy!

— Halie


How to Cook Perfect Crêpes

There is nothing quite like a piping hot homemade French crêpe, topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar. I remember making these in French classes back in the day, and we always looked forward to taking the class time off to make this quintessential French treat.

Cooking the perfect crêpe, however, can be a difficult task. You want the batter to be spread as thinly as possible in the pan and you need to flip it without tearing it. And you can pretty much bet that the first crêpe you make is going to have to be tossed out.

You need to work quickly when making crêpes, but once you get the hang of it, they really are a cinch to make. The batter comes together in minutes and in one bowl, and it only takes a minute or two to cook one crêpe, depending its size and thickness. Make sure the pan is hot before you pour the batter in, and immediately swirl the pan in your hand to get the thinnest possible coating of the batter for the crêpe. After that, it just becomes a matter of flipping the crêpe halfway, removing it from the pan, and topping it with whatever your heart desires.

Crêpes are a fantastic and versatile classic. The crêpe itself is not very sweet, so you can go with sweeter or more savory fillings. They are great to have around for family breakfasts or brunches with the girls, and you can have an assembly line going so everyone can fill their own crêpe as they come out of the pan. They are best served fresh, but you can also store the crêpes in the fridge and reheat them for a few seconds in the microwave before filling and eating.

One of my very first French teachers introduced me to this recipe — it’s simple and easy, and I’ve been using it for years.

Crêpes

Adapted from La Technique by Jacques Pépin

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Wisk until smooth: flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and half the milk. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  2. Heat skillet or crêpe pan on medium-high heat. You do not need to grease the skillet, but if you like, a small dab of butter before you make the first crêpe could help. Add approximately 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan per crêpe, and adjust as necessary for different pan sizes. Be sure to stir the batter thoroughly before adding it to the skillet, as it can become clumpy.
  3. Cook crêpes on medium heat for approximately 50 seconds or until the thin edges begin to curl up and small bubbles form in the middle. Flip, then cook for about 30 seconds on the other side.
Fill your crêpes just before eating and roll them closed. I love to keep mine simple with a squeeze of lemon and some sugar, but other possible fillings include Nutella or chocolate sauce, caramel, jellies, fresh fruit (with whipped cream, if you like), ham and cheese, etc. Enjoy!
— Halie