Monday, August 31, 2009
Custards are one of my favorite things to make in the kitchen so I made creme caramel.
The difference between creme caramel custard and creme brulee custard is that the creme caramel contains egg whites so that it can stand on it's own when it's unmolded. However, I happen to like the texture of creme brulee and the caramel sauce on the creme caramel and, since I'm not in culinary school anymore, I'm allowed to break the rules so I didn't include the egg whites in this recipe. The finished product still stood on it's own and was incredibly creamy. While making the custard, after I separated the yolks from the whites, I removed the membrane that surrounds the yolks. It can get pretty messy but it ensures that the texture will be smooth throughout the custard.
I had about 1 cup of egg whites left over from the custard so I made these meringue cookies. I added chopped pistachios and vanilla extract.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The inspiration for these cookies came from a drawer knob that I saw on display at the Home Depot. I painted the roses on by using edible shimmer dust mixed with alcohol (Bacardi 151). The mixture was thinner than usual so that I could get that watercolor look. I had to work quickly, though, because if the brush is left in one area for too long it will start to dissolve the icing.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The birds are done by making the basic shape with a small piping tip (Wilton #1) then using a scribe tool to manipulate the icing to make the legs, tail, and beak.
I was using tooth picks for this kind of work but then switched to a scribe tool, which is much more environmentally friendly and economical since you don't have to throw it out when you're done.
The birds are finished by placing little blue eyes on their little faces with, of course, an edible ink marker (Foodoodler brand works very well for me).
Enter the giveaway at Fantabulously Frugal going on through Monday to win 6 of my Brush Embroidery Cookies in brown and pink.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Fantabulously Frugal is a blog where you can find bargains, coupons, free samples and more. Make sure to visit often for all kinds of great deals!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
These brush embroidery cookies (usually in blue) were a special request from a customer. I fell in love with the way the colors look on this design so I had to list them in my Etsy store.
Brush embroidery with icing is a simple process. It works on royal icing as well as on rolled fondant. To start, draw the outer layer of petals in stiff royal icing with a #2 or #3 Wilton tip. Make the lines a little squiggly to give it a ruffled effect.
Immediately after drawing your petals, take a small stiff brush and dip it into a dish of water. Wipe the excess water on a paper towel. On the inner edge of your icing line, brush the icing inward. Do this all the way around until all of the petals have been brushed. Pipe the next layer of petals and make sure to slightly overlap the first layer. Do the same brushing process on this layer.
My brush embroidery cookies are based loosely on a rose so I like to make a center to finish the flower that represents the petals that haven't opened yet. I also try to stick with the 7,5,3 rose rule (7 petals on the outside, 5 on the next layer, 3...)but sometimes I end up with 6 and 4. It's OK... it's still pretty.
Monday, August 17, 2009
When I first started decorating cookies I was mixing the shimmer dust with lemon extract but I was going through a whole bottle in about 5 minutes, which got pretty expensive. Then I switched to vodka. It was cheaper than the extract but the alcohol content was much lower so it was dissolving my icing before the "paint" had a chance to dry.
Then I found Bacardi 151 and it is by far the best liquid I've used with the shimmer dust. It dries quickly and you can get a lot more for your money than when you buy extracts. The easiest way to use it is to pour a small amount of the alcohol into a dish and, with an eyedropper, place a tiny bit on a palette with the shimmer dust and mix with a small paint brush. You will have to keep adding drops of alcohol since it evaporates rather quickly and make sure that you close the cap on the bottle when you're not pouring!
These monogrammed cookies are available in my Etsy shop.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
In the first stages of making these cookies, they came out rock hard and I knew I had some work to do. The cookies needed to be edible but they also needed to be able to withstand a trip across the country. This is when my culinary education comes in handy. Altering the ingredients in a recipe can be daunting since baking is an exact science, which is why it takes many trials and discarded batches of dough to get it just right. However, when you know the function of each ingredient in the recipe, it becomes much easier to change things around.
I'll address the ingredients that I use in my cookie recipe:
~Flour, the most prevalent ingredient, contains proteins, which form the gluten structure during mixing. Think of kneading bread dough when you want to form that "gluten window". This is why those recipes always say, "don't overmix!" lest you end up with one tough cookie.
~Sugar is not only a sweetener but also keeps the cookie moist because of its hygroscopic properties (absorbs moisture from the atmosphere). Sugar also contributes to the browning of the cookies because it caramelizes during baking.
~Butter or any type of fat is known as "shortening" in baking because of its ability to shorten those aforementioned gluten strands, which makes the cookie tender.
~Egg yolks contribute flavor and assist in browning while egg whites act as a binder and help give the cookie its structure.
~Salt enhances flavors both sweet and savory.
~Baking powder acts as a leavening agent by releasing air bubbles into the dough during baking but also weakens the structure of the cookie.
I'm sure that there are percentages and ratios that pertain to each ingredient in baking (in fact I think I have those numbers in an old notebook around here somewhere) but it's much more fun to know the functions of the ingredients and use trial and error until you get the recipe just the way you like.
Another factor to take into consideration when baking is your geographical location. The humidity and altitude will have an effect on the end product. When I moved from New York to Chicago I had to go through the process of changing my recipe all over again!
Creating the flavors of the cookie is the fun part. I use orange zest, vanilla beans, and cardamom, which are reminiscent of my childhood. Experiment with flavors and try something unconventional like lavender or lemon with basil until you find something that suits your taste.
And remember that sometimes the best ideas are born from mistakes. I’ve learned that by experience!