Macaroons… Success!

May 21st, 2010

Macaroons have gained quite the following… I’ve been wanting to make them for awhile but they’ve always seemed intimidating… well, Tartelette wrote a really helpful tutorial and today I went for it…

I made Use Real Butter’s alfajores variation with David Lebovitz‘s Dulce de Leche.  I followed the recipe to a T, using two day aged egg whites and was really happy with the results. My macaroons had little feet! I would like the tops to be smoother and puffier but I just need some practice. Most importantly- they are DELICIOUS!


February 6th, 2010

When I found out that Juan and I would be spending a few days in San Francisco, I was so excited. I’ve always wanted to go there after hearing so many good things about the food and the art… I was not disappointed in either realm… In preparation for our trip, I started asking my fellow foodie friends for advice… after hearing one name in particular… over and over again… I put it first on the list…

On a cool November day… Juan and Ginny arrived at Tartine! They were greeted with a long line snaking out of the cafe… Ginny had a bad case of the hungergrumps, but she waited as patiently as possible for their turn. After pouring over the delicious baked goods, Ginny decided upon the frangipane croissant with a cup of coffee and, impulsively, a brownie for dessert. Juan chose the croque monseiur. Settling down at one of the tables, Ginny impatiently waited while pictures were taken before she took a bite… Oh, my, it was everything she ever wanted in a croissant, reminding her of days spent in Switzerland as a child. Eagerly she looked at Juan’s plate, wondering if she could just stab a piece, but she asked politely (this time) and was given a delicious bite of bread, butter, cheese and ham… How could you go wrong?  The pickled carrot she could do without but Juan seemed to like it.  Stuffed, Ginny saved the brownie for later.  They left holding hands in the November sun… happy… content…

Can you tell that I’ve been studying all day and my brain needs a break? In all honesty, I loved Tartine. I’m very picky when it comes to restaurants and, although I trust all my foodie sources, I’m still one to be critical. So, if you are in San Francisco, you must go. If you aren’t, they do have a really nice cookbook, which appeared on my Christmas list after our November trip. I tried my hand at making brownies tonight. This was my second try. The first time, I did not quite follow the recipe and did not like them. The second time, they were delicious, although I do have beaters to clean now. You can find the recipe (and better photos!) here. I halved the recipe using my cool new dry ingredient scale (Thank you Santa!).

Disclaimer: I was not paid to review this restaurant or cookbook. The cookbook was a present from my sister and we paid for our own brunch.

Free and "Healthy" Chocolate? I’ll take it!

May 13th, 2008

When I stumbled across Blake’s of Blake Makes group of taste testing food bloggers, the Sooper Heroes, I couldn’t wait to join. If a food company wanted to send me some free food to taste and test, I would gladly give it a shot. I love trying anything new and different. Last week as I was walking out of my apartment, I stumbled across the cutest little box of CHOCOLATE!!!! My first give-a-way had come!!! Amano Artisan Chocolate had sent me three bars of high quality delicious chocolate. For this chocolate lover, I was hooked…

But then, I stared at the bars, Ocumare, Madagascar, and Cuyagua. They just stared back at me, threatening me to destroy my healthy pledge and devour them in all one sitting. I could not decide how to go about this…should I research how to preform an official taste test and get my roommates involved? But wait one does not like dark chocolate and the other went home for the weekend… Ok, should I bake something with them? I had been looking at an amazing brioche recipe that besides the three sticks of butter would not be that bad…oh, yes, healthy! But then, as I find happens often in blogging world, I stumbled across the perfect post…the fabulous Mandy from Fresh from the Oven wrote and beautifully photographed about her Almond and Dark Chocolate Granola…I knew what I would make!

Lately, I have been making a huge effort to become healthier. I started working out more regularly and modified my diet a little bit. I’ve managed to lose some weight, feeling overall healthier and happier. My diet, however, could still use some work. Although, I tend to eat with moderation, I have my days of gluttony. Thankfully, dark chocolate is supposed to be very healthy and thus a perfect addition to a granola. Honestly, I just googled “dark chocolate”…try it! The first four website are links to article proclaiming the health benefits of dark chocolate. I mean, if the internet says it, it must be true!

Of course, my final problem was which of the bars to use or maybe a mixture of the three. So, I took a piece of each and determined which I liked the best. I found Cayagua to be very mild and smooth dark chocolate. The Madagscar was the strongest and fruitiest. The Ocumare was strong but not too powerful and definitely my favorite. The chocolate really is delicious! I chopped up the Cayagua for the granola since I did not want something too overpowering for my next couple breakfasts. I really like it! Thank you Mandy for the idea, Amano for the chocolate and Blake for the creating the Sooper Heroes!

Almond and Dark Chocolate Granola
(adapted from Mandy of Fresh from the Oven and inspired by this recipe)

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
5 tbsp mild honey
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 block of 3.5oz 70% chocolate or more, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a food processor, coffee grinder or blender, grind half the oats to a fine powder.

In a large bowl, combine the grinded oats, oats, almonds, brown sugar, and salt. Stir well to blend.

Zap the honey, maple syrup and oil over in the microwave for 15 seconds –until the honey is loose, this should not take long, about 15 seconds. Pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine well.

Spread the mixture evenly on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Stirring the granola half way through for even baking. When it’s ready, remove the pan from the oven, stir well – this will keep it from cooling into a hard, solid sheet – and cool completely.

When cool, transfer the granola to a large bowl, storage jar, or zipper-lock plastic bag. Add the chocolate, and stir (or shake, if using a jar or bag) to mix.

Makes about 5 cups.

P.S. Check out Mandy’s blog Fresh from the Oven. She is a wonderful baker and a fantastic photographer!