Maple Almond Butter Cookies

It’s doubtful that one could improve on the delectable, simple, well-known Peanut Butter Cookie. To some, a homemade peanut butter cookie can bring back childhood memories.

As the old cliché proclaims, memories from “simpler times”.

Not having enough peanut butter and a jar of maple-almond butter on hand, I adapted the well-known Peanut Butter Cookie and baked “Maple Almond Butter Cookies.”

maple almond butter cookies

*Maple Almond Butter Cookies
Yield: about 30 cookies
Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple almond butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
• Mix sugars, almond butter, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.
• Heat oven to 375ºF.
• Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet. (Do not flatten as you would with peanut butter cookies).
• Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

maple almond butter

*Adapted from this recipe: “Peanut Butter Cookie

These cookies were delicious.  They have a taste of their own and cannot be compared to a peanut butter cookie.  Both are equally tasty.

So, I will sit back and take in the day over a cup of espresso and a few of these cookies.

Dolce far Niente.”

Sunday Supper For Two

Saturday, I was thinking about what to have for supper on Sunday with what I have on hand around the kitchen.

As they say, “willful waste makes woeful want.”

What to do with 2 potatoes, garlic, a shallot, a carrot, a stalk of celery, ground coriander, nutmeg, a small bay leaf, some pistachios, olive oil, unsalted butter and a can of chicken broth?

veggies & pistachios

I thought, “soup!”

First, I blanched the pistachios to loosen up the brown skins. Then rubbed the pistachio in a paper towel to remove the brown skins. Next, I softened the sliced shallot in a small amount of olive oil and a bit of unsalted butter, cut up the veggies and threw them into the pot along with pistachios and all of the other ingredients omitting the coriander and nutmeg. The addition for those spices were added in the next step.

pistachios and soup

When the veggies were cooked and cooled down for about 10 minutes, I put this all into a blender (along with the coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste) and pureed it into a potage.

After reheating the soup, about a couple tablespoon of heavy cream was stirred into the soup.

For service, a dollop of homemade crème fraîche (made the day before) and crushed pistachios were added to the center of the potage.

crème fraîche

I am calling this, “Creamy Pistachio & Potato Potage”.

This potage/soup would, also, make a wonderful cold soup for Summer.

potage

Then, with 3 leftover campari tomatoes, a half a sheet of puff pastry, some fig infused balsamic vinegar, small amount of sugar, pepper, oregano, basil and Gruyere cheese…

tomatoes1

…I made two “Tomato Tartlettes”.

tartlettes

Voilà!

A Sunday supper for two.

Orange Hazelnut Cake

I saw a recipe for a walnut cake and thought I could enhance it by adding orange zest, hazelnut liqueur and substituting the ground walnuts with hazelnut flour/meal.

I call mine “Orange Hazelnut Cake”

orange hazelnut cake

With the addition of Hazelnut Liqueur and orange zest, I further enhanced the flavor, by making a syrup of hazelnut liqueur, honey, orange juice, and orange zest then brushed onto the cake.

For decoration, I made candied oranges slices

Delicious!

Orange Hazelnut Cake
Serves: Serves 8-10
Ingredients
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons hazelnut liqueur, plus 3 Tablespoons more for syrup
1 Tablespoon honey, plus 1 teaspoon more for syrup
3 eggs
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest from 1 large orange, save and set aside ¼ teaspoon and the orange for syrup
pinch salt
½ cup hazelnut flour/meal

Orange Hazelnut Syrup
3 Tablespoons Hazelnut Syrup
Juice from 1 orange
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon orange zest

Directions
⦁ Preheat the oven to 350°F.
⦁ Grease and flour a half-size Bundt pan with a 6-cup capacity. (I used Baker’s Joy Baking Spray)
⦁ With a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
⦁ Add the vanilla, hazelnut liqueur, and 1 Tablespoon honey and mix well.
⦁ Add the eggs, one at a time mixing well after each addition.
⦁ Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and orange peel (minus the ¼ teaspoon saved) and beat till creamy.
⦁ Without using the mixer, gently fold the hazelnut flour into the batter.
⦁ Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
⦁ Leave the cake to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully unmoulding it. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
⦁ Meanwhile, to make the syrup, add orange juice, hazelnut liqueur, orange zest and honey to a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat and gently boil for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
⦁ Brush the syrup onto the cooled cake.

Decorate as desired. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Pretzel Buns For Pub-Style Burgers

Making homemade “pretzel sandwich buns” was easy and took little time and effort make.

I made these for cheeseburgers we had for supper last night along with a batch of home fries.

Pretzel Buns

For pub-style burgers (or any type sandwiches) at home without the added expense of eating out, I encourage you to make a batch.

You can find the recipe at King Arthur Flours/Pretzel Buns.

French Financiers

Have you ever heard of a financier (pronounced fee-nahn-see-AY)?

financiers

It’s a classic French pastry.

According to the New York Time-The Pastry Chef’s Rich Little Secret, “IT’S a simple almond cake, leavened by egg whites, moistened with browned butter and baked into a small mold. It is springy, sweet and nutty with an exterior that’s as crisp as an eggshell.”

The article also goes on to say, “In France, financiers have been a staple of fine pastry shops for more than 100 years.”

In my quest to bake and taste something different,  I happened upon the article and the recipe for financiers.  

“All you need is a whisk, a bowl, a pan and a mere stroke of finesse.”

Yesterday, I baked a half batch.

financiers

“The batter then has to rest before baking. A few hours in the refrigerator, and the flavors will harmonize and the batter will firm up, making it easier to pipe into molds.”

The instructions say to chill the batter in the bowl.  Then, after chilling for the allotted amount of time, spoon the batter into a pastry bag with a 1/4 inch round pastry tip.  For me, I found it much easier to chill the batter in the pastry bag.  I, also, eliminated the round pastry tip and just cut an opening in the tip of the bag, then piped it into the prepared pans/molds.

You can find the recipe here: New York Time-The Pastry Chef’s Rich Little Secret.

Simply delicious!

Opera Cake

Like nothing I have ever tasted before.

The “Opera Cake”.

opera cake1For a while, I have been wanting to make this cake.  After reading through all the different recipes, my enthusiasm started to wane.  This cake has many different components and uses many ingredients.  I was just too lazy to go through all those steps.

Nevertheless, I wanted to challenge myself and to taste what all goes into one.  At the “Patisserie New York” an Opera Cake sells for $51.90.  It should be really tasty at those prices.

And yes, it was tasty-it was delicious!

I gathered a bunch of different type of recipes from around the net for this cake and put together a recipe for me. It took me a while to put it together and to convert amounts to cups, ounces, spoonfuls, etc.

I needed a joconde, ganache, coffee syrup, Italian buttercream, a chocolate mirror glaze, and lots of time.  An Opera Cake is usually made with almond flour, but can be made with hazelnut flour.  I used the hazelnut flour.  I thought coffee flavoring goes well with hazelnut flavor.

I had never made Italian Buttercream before.  I felt it had too much butter for one recipe  and it was too much work to create.  With this recipe, timing is everything.  Blah!

I found a little “umph“, the other day, and headed right into the kitchen to make that buttercream.  I can now say that all the effort (and butter) that goes into this Italian Meringue Buttercream is well worth the energy. The taste is heavenly.  It’s not too sweet, but melt-in-your-mouth creaminess.  I only made 3/4th of the Italian Buttercream recipe.

The buttercream was made on day one.  The next day, I made the rest of the components and the cake.  It took me 6 hours to bake, make and put together.  Whew!   It would have taken me longer, but Tom did all the dishes after each additional component was made.

This isn’t an entremets that should be eaten all the time and then, only a thin slice will do.  Moderation is the key word for this lovely, decadent dessert.

With all the work, ingredients and effort I put into this cake, and not knowing what I was doing, I think it turned out picture perfect!

Check out it’s, possible, history at “The Good Life France“.

You can find my recipe for this cake on this page-Opera Cake.

Weekend Bakers

What was happening this weekend-

Yesterday, I made an apple-caramel tarte tatin. It came out so pretty and it was delicious.

tarte tatin (2)

I inverted in on to a plate; snapped a picture of the applely-carmelly-almondly goodness. I was pleased at how well it turned out.

However, I unintentionally deleted the photo and can’t show you how pretty and appealing it was.

Ugh!

tarte tatin

This is before turning it out onto a plate.

Friday, I made (eight) ciabatta rolls for Italian sandwiches.  We filled them with Salami, picante provolone cheese, paper thin-cut veggies and homemade Italian sub dressing.

ciabatta

Today, Tom made us a delicious brunch. He made eggs, bacon  and cheese galettes. For sides, he cooked hash browns and sausage.

galette egg

Looks good and hit the spot on the cold, Sunday morn.

Weekends, for us, are rather nondescript. But, they weren’t always that way. As one gets older they seem to, unmemorably, fade away.

There was a time when we couldn’t wait for the weekend. They were always filled with family and fun. We made so many good and fun memories.

As they say,

“C’est la vie and Bon Appétit!”

Simply Delicious

Dalla cucina povera.

Today, I made 68-1 inch Italian meatballs.  I froze more than half.  With the rest,  I added them to my version of Italian wedding soup.

Italian wedding soup

Along with the soup, I made another boule from the 5-Minute Artisan Bread recipe.

french boule

Both were delicious and comforting.

Well, that was short and sweet.

See ya later!

Thank you for visiting!