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Entries in cinnamon (3)

Saturday
Feb012014

Cinnamon Macarons with Cream Cheese Frosting

Let me begin by saying, I'm no Pierre Hermé, Ladurée or Geffroy Chevallier (ummmm - why did I feel the need to point that out?!?). I've actually LOST COUNT at how many times I've attempted French macarons and failed miserably (no I haven't - it's seven - seven times).

On that note, these cinnamon macarons were good. Not amazing, but good enough that I decided to photograph them.

I used Donna Hay's recipe, added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon extract and dusted the tops with ground cinnamon before baking (after resting 20 minutes), then, I filled them with cream cheese frosting that I had left in the freezer from this incredible carrot cake I made in December (turns out cream cheese frosting freezes BEAUTIFULLY - you would never know it was made two months ago!!).

 

It's said that room temperature egg whites are key to macaron success.

Every time I make these incredibly frustrating/rewarding little cookies, I make notes about what-not-to-do next time.

Notes from this attempt:

- Add cinnamon extract to eggs whites before whisking - the cinnamon extract is so powerful it actually deflated my meringue - I think this is why some of my 'feet' were straight-sided instead of nice and ruffly

- Bake one tray at a time - I don't know why but I popped both trays in the oven together - the top tray of macarons looked like the ones in the photo above - the bottom tray all cracked

- Don't stress - Though my macarons weren't perfect, they were TASTY. I know one day, the stars will line up and I will make perfect French bakery-style macarons. Because I love baking so much I try not to stress when things go wrong (notice I said TRY).

* I bought my cinnamon extract at Sur La Table in the US - think cinnamon hearts and cinnamon toothpicks - it's intense. 

** I would like to send a shout out to the most lovely Maureen O. of Baked In Nova Scotia - www.bakedinnovascotia.com. She posted gorgeous ruffly pink macarons on Facebook the other night which inspired me to give it another go!

Thursday
Sep012011

Gnocchi Buns

Gnocchi BunsWeird. I know.

But the addition of Yukon Gold potatoes into this lusciously smooth dough reminded me of the times we've made gnocchi and so I've dubbed these incredibly delicious Cinnamon Buns 'Gnocchi Buns'.

The recipe looked kind of long and complex so I've broken it down into as few steps as possible - it's actually quite easy and totally worth the time!!

Gnocchi Buns (recipe adapted from Epicurious)

4 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 Tbsp Kosher Salt

2 Cups Water

0.5 Cup Butter, room temperature

3 eggs, whisked

5.5 Cups Flour

0.5 Cup Warm Water (105-115 degrees)

0.5 oz Dry Active Yeast

2 Tbsp Sugar 

  • Boil potatoes, Kosher Salt and 2 Cups Water, uncovered 15-18 minutes until almost all liquid is gone and potato chunks are soft - do not drain - mash with butter until melted - whisk in eggs and 1 C Flour until smooth - set aside
  • In your stand-mixer bowl - 0.5 C Warm Water, Yeast and Sugar - let stand 10 minutes until foamy - add potato mixture - with dough hook, mix in 4 Cups Flour, one at a time until absorbed - if dough sticks to bottom of bowl, add small handfuls of flour, one at a time until unstuck - knead with dough hook 4-5 minutes until smooth - put dough in large buttered bowl - turn to coat - cover with tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise one hour

While your dough is rising, make your filling:

Gnocchi Bun Filling

1.5 C Brown Sugar

2.5 Tbsp Cinnamon

3 Tbsp Flour

0.5 Cup (1 stick) Butter, room temperature or soft

  • Mash all filling ingredients together with a fork until combined into a paste-like mixture
  • After one hour, turn your out dough onto a floured cutting board - divide dough two (I like to wrap half of my dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge*) - Roll out one half of the dough into a rectangular shape - spread your cinnamon filling all over the dough-rectangle - starting on the long side, roll the dough into a log - from the middle, slice the log with a floured and serated knife** into 1.5 - 2 inch pieces - place Gnocchi Buns on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise 20 minutes
  • Bake at 425 degrees 12-15 minutes or until golden on top***

While your buns are baking, make your glaze:

Gnocchi Bun Glaze****

2 Cups Icing Sugar (also called Confectioner's Sugar)

0.25 Cup Butter, melted

2 Tbsp Milk

1 tsp Vanilla

pinch of Kosher Salt

  • Whisk all Glaze Ingredients together
  • Drizzle over warm Gnocchi Buns

Notes:

* I like to let the unused half of dough rest in the fridge overnight - in the morning I put it in the freezer for future use - you can also pre-assemble the buns and then freeze them after the second rise

**I tried dental floss to slice my buns but I prefer a sharp serrated knife dusted with a little flour - just make sure you are slicing your log on a cutting board so you don't damage your countertops

***For firmer golden buns, bake on a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced about 1 inch apart - For softer, chewier Cinnabon-style buns, nestle together like the ones in the photos

****Next time I bake these I'm going to try Cream Cheese Icing instead of the Icing Sugar Glaze- click here for a great-sounding recipe!!

Saturday
Jun192010

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Friends of ours flew to Mexico in late April, a small group of family in tow, to get hitched. Soon after their return, looking tanned and fabulous, they came to our house for dinner one evening. As they walked into our kitchen, the new 'Mrs.' handed me a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. I was touched that they would even think to bring me home a gift while away on such a momentous journey. I untied the string and unwrapped the paper to reveal a smooth dark shiny bottle of Mexican Vanilla. I cracked the top, brought the bottle to my nose closed my eyes and let the fragrance work its magic. Immediately I knew this vanilla was different than any I had ever met - like a great bottle of wine there were complex things happening inside the bottle - the heady scent of buttery caramel, the sweet joy of the 'Happy Birthday' scratch and sniff stickers from my childhood, combined with images of the clear barley 'Toy Candy' my mum used to buy every Christmas when we were kids. I opened my eyes and found myself back in our kitchen, no longer 12 years old clutching my stickerbook under my arm. It always makes me wonder - how many more times in my life will I think about those memories? It's truly wondrous what a smell can do to you. I tucked the bottle into my baking cupboard and we had a great dinner.

Two weeks later, 'Mr. and Mrs.' hosted a wedding reception at their house. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if they had something at their Nova Scotia reception with a little Mexican authenticity?' This is where the Mexican Wedding Cakes come in. I had never heard of them before but after some online research I found a great recipe on Epicurious. They looked cute in the photo, had a ton of rave reviews, seemed super easy and would give me the chance to use my Mexican Vanilla!! I offered to make a batch to use as a wedding favour and my offer was quickly and graciously accepted. 

Two days before the reception, I baked 100 'cakes' (the cakes are actually bite-sized nutty shortbread cookies dusted with icing sugar). One day before, I created and printed personalized tags and put each cake into its own small clear cellophane bag. I tied each bag with a piece of bright, festive ribbon laced with a tag and displayed them in a large galvanized metal bucket. When we left the reception Sean and I took a few cakes home with us. I liked the cakes but Sean LOVED them - he said they were his favourite thing that I've made yet since we've been together. I told him that was a BOLD statement but he insisted it was true. Men are so easy to please!!

Click here for the recipe!!