Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daring Bakers: French Macarons with Cranberry Curd

French macarons was the October challenge for Daring Bakers! Since I started reading food blogs on a regular basis, about a year ago, this little beauties were popping up everywhere. They are also more and more available in cafes and patisseries all over the place.

My first attempt using the original recipe failed miserably. The macarons looked more like a milano cookie, they were totally flat, had no feet and would stick on the parchment paper. Since I made macarons before, I was surprised that everything went so wrong, but I was not alone, as I could read in the Daring Bakers Forum. After reading the many tips and advises (especially Tartelette and Audax), I switched to Tartlette's recipe, which uses more dry ingredients but the same amount of egg white.

My second batch failed out of different reasons. I oven was way too hot, because I was also roasting a chicken before. They came out a little brown of course, but they still had the feet. They were still yummy, just a little crunchy.

Then came my third and last attempt. I was so happy when I saw they all got little feet and none of them were broken.

For the filling I used cranberry curd, which you can find at my last post. The magenta color of the curd gave a great contrast to the white shells, and the taste from sweet to tart was very good.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s "The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern" as the challenge recipe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Quark Cream with Cranberry Curd

Quark is the one food item from Germany I miss the most, besides Bratwurst, of course. Quark is such a common item in Germany, it's something you always have in your fridge. It can be described as a fresh cheese, a curd, similar to frommage blanc.

Germans eat it for breakfast in muesli, in desserts and also savory on a slice of bread. And of course not to forget, the German style cheesecake is baked with quark. It makes the cheesecake a little more fluffy, but I also like the American cheesecake; they're just two different things.

When I first lived in California, I was hunting all over the place to find quark. Nowadays if you are lucky, you will find it in some stores, but the price is just really expensive. I am talking at least 10 times as much as you  would pay in Germany. So, you can imagine how happy I was when I found Meeta's post on making homemade quark. I make it every few weeks now, so I always have a supply on hand.

The quark cream I made is very versatile and can be used as a base for many desserts. Since I still had cranberries I made cranberry curd as a topping, but any other fruit will be good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Cranberry Pie

Apple pie season has arrived in our home. This is my sweetheart's favorite pie. No matter what other elaborate cakes or tarts I made, in the end he would always request a good old apple pie. I am used to making my pies in a springform, but I just got a beautiful pie dish on the weekend and was eager to try it out.

I found the recipe on the website of the Gourmet Book Club, which always had great recommendations on beautiful and useful cookbooks. This recipe is from the book Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson and is originally for an Apple Blackberry Pie.

I still had a lot of cranberries from our recent visit to the cranberry festival, and decided to use those instead of the blackberries. The cranberries gave the pie a great tartness and it was really delicious. After reading all the good reviews of the book and the great tasting pie I ordered the book today and anxiously waiting for its arrival.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cranberry Poppy Seed Muffins

Last weekend we went to the annual Cranberry Festival in Fort Langley, BC. It is a perfect little village for this kind of events, it always reminds me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. They sell all kinds of things cranberry from food related items to decoration and cosmetic products. And of course cranberries.

British Columbia is one of the biggest producers for cranberries and if you are lucky you can see them getting harvested. It is very interesting to see, since the fields are getting flooded and all the cranberries coming to the top and building up a huge carpet of red. Very beautiful.

I bought a huge bag of cranberries, and after making some cranberry sauce, I was looking for some recipes to bake something. I found the following muffin recipe in a German magazine, and they turned out really good. I remember a couple of years ago cranberries where almost unknown in Germany and I would bring some packages when I visit. Now, you can find them everywhere. I think what started the trend was the urge to make a real cosmopolitan as seen on "Sex and the City". Cranberry juice was a really exotic item and my girlfriends and I were browsing every supermarket to get it. Another reason for being so popular is that cranberries are really healthy and also have a good amount of vitamin C.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Plum-Almond Cake

Before it is to late, and the season is over, I had to make another plum cake. Plum cakes in all variations are my favorite treats in fall. The alignment of the plums makes the cake look really elegant and perfect for a special occasion. It is really delicious with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
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