Really missing traveling this morning. We promised our daughter we’d take her to Paris for her 13th birthday, sort of to make up for having to spend a year not traveling at all, e-learning, etc. A year should give us time to save up for the trip.
I’ve been there once for work and was startled to find that Paris was in fact just as magical as all the stories say, and having a croissant from any little bakery on the street was consistently perfection.
So today, instead of our standard apple-cheddar crescent rolls I went for something a little more sophisticated — pear, prosciutto, and Gruyere.
I wasn’t sure the kids would appreciate it, but thankfully they loved it.
I couldn’t figure out how to photograph the September Patreon treat boxes so you could actually see everything them, so you have to imagine the chocolate-dipped madeleines that would go on top. Not every box got exactly the same things, but most of them got most of these:
• jasmine rose black tea
• dark chocolate with coconut and goji berries
• mulled apple cider, honey, and jaggery marshmallows
• banana scones with candied ginger, cranberry, and a jaggery-brown butter glaze
• jaggery & lime bar, with coconut-cashew crust (gluten-free)
• Totoro chocolate cookie
• chocolate cayenne sandwich cookie with mango curd
• “Asclepius in the Garden” soap
The only one I’m not thrilled about sending out is J’s, which was meant to be vegan and gluten-free, and it turned out that very little of my food items were in that category this time around, so J got more soaps than they might perhaps want. I don’t want that to happen again, so I’m going to try to use the gluten-free flour for most if not all of any Patreon treats going forward.
The winter box for December will also have more of a chocolate ratio, so that should help too. I didn’t want ship a lot of chocolate this time around, because I worried it still might be warm enough that if it sat in a mail holding facility for a long time, it might melt.
December, though, definitely chocolate. I’m thinking of adding a theme this time around too — dragons & knitting. You’ll see.
I was a little worried that it’d be hard to wrap the cookies with the caramel drizzle on top, but thankfully, it seems to work fine with plastic wrap. Whew. Assembling Patreon treat boxes today, should be able to ship them out by end of day, fingers crossed.
Sugar cookies with a bit of caramel in the royal icing, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with salt. Standard iced sugar cookies are a little too straight-up sweet for me, but these, I could eat rather steadily, esp. with a nice cup of coffee or tea. And so pretty too!
Putting together the autumn treat boxes tomorrow, to ship out to Patreon subscribers. So I’m baking a bit this weekend — made half a batch of sugar cookies yesterday and will bake the other half batch with the kids later today. I find that if I divide it into two batches, and do one batch on my own when I can be peaceful and obsessive, I have way more patience for baking some cookies with the kids. For the cookies themselves, I used the Sweetopia sugar cookie recipe, which I find perfectly reliable.
But I felt like experimenting a little bit with the icing — I’m using Alton Brown’s royal icing recipe, which is great and also reliable, but I stirred in a few spoons of caramel. (I thought about making caramel from scratch, but y’know, they had dipping caramel near the apples at the store yesterday, so I just picked up some of that, and I think it’ll be fine.) The caramel only flavors it slightly, but it does give it a lovely color.
My plan is to ice the cookies (the lazy way, just dipping them in the bowl of royal icing and lightly scraping off the excess), and then drizzle caramel over the top and sprinkle with flake salt.
That’ll have to wait a bit, though, as I need to go shower and get ready for the podcast recording session with Jed Hartman and Benjamin Rosenbaum
this morning. We’re planning to talk about editing today, and what makes a story good, if there is such a thing. If all goes well, we’ll be launching a Kickstarter for it on October 1st, so watch this space. Would love your support.
But later, salted caramel cookies!
(I also put a spoon of the caramel in my coffee this morning, which I feel was a truly excellent life choice.)
NOTE: If you sign up for a treat box now, your next box will be in December. If you want the September box too, it’ll be an additional $20, which we can arrange via PayPal.
Cider marshmallow experiments. I made my mulled apple cider marshmallows with corn syrup and white sugar first, per usual, but for the second batch, I tried swapping those ingredients for honey and jaggery.
The honey makes the syrup boil up much higher, so you do need to use a bigger pot, or be extra careful watching the temp, or you’re likely to have it boil over. And the honey/jaggery version gave a stickier marshmallow, needing to be tossed in powdered sugar a second time. But I like this version better, with more complexity to the flavors.
I would still like a little more brightness of apple; the mulling concentrates and changes the flavor. Maybe adding a little apple extract next time? Hmm…
4 c. apple cider
4 sticks cinnamon
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 c. jaggery (or dark brown sugar)
1/2 c. honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
butter (for greasing the pan)
cinnamon powder for dusting (a few T)
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar (about 1/2 c.)
MAKE MULLED CIDER: In a small pot on the stove, heat cider with cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and simmer 10 minutes or so. Remove 1 c. for marshmallows, sieving out any whole spices; drink whatever remains. (Can be done in advance.) If you simmer for longer, the flavor concentrates more; you can simmer it all the way down to 1 c. if you like, but it’ll take quite a long time.
Empty gelatin packets into bowl of stand mixer (whisk attachment), with 1/2 c. of the mulled cider. Stir briefly to combine.
In a small saucepan (a bigger one will be heavy and hard to hold steadily at a later stage) combine the other 1/2 c. of mulled cider, jaggery, honey, and salt. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees if you have a candy thermometer), approximately 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat; if it continues, it will swiftly turn into hard candy.
Turn mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Be very careful with the sugar syrup, as it is scaldingly hot and will burn you badly if it gets on your skin.) Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.
Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 minutes. Add food color if desired.
While it’s whipping, butter a large 9 x 12 pan. Prepare an oiled spatula. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with the oiled spatula.
Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and dust the top with enough of the powdered sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest of the powdered sugar for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn onto a board, cut into squares, and dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining powdered sugar, using additional if necessary. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, or frozen.
Late night confectionery experiments. I wanted to try honey in my mulled apple cider marshmallows. Good! I think I’m going to make one more batch in the next few days, trying jaggery instead of white sugar. More complex flavor = good. I’m also wondering if I can use apple cider instead of water in the syrup-making stage — is that going to cause any difficulties, do you think? If I can amp up the apple, that would be great…
I bought myself a present back in March, to celebrate the cookbook launching: a new mixer in cobalt blue, with a glass bowl. I have to admit, the Cuisinart I had previously is actually a little easier to use — the components aren’t as heavy. So I’m not sure I’d recommend the Kitchen-Aid for general use. But if you want something pretty that you’re happy to leave sitting out in the kitchen, don’t mind that it’s a little heavier, and love watching your marshmallows and batters mix up in the glass bowl, it’s certainly a treat.
As for me, now I have a back-up, which is good for when I’m production cooking. Not a lot of that right now, but when the pandemic is over and we re-launch the cookbook with lots of events, I think both mixers will be in heavy use. Maybe I can have Kavi or Anand on one and me on the other.
10 seconds of soothing mixer action, for apple cider & honey marshmallows.
With a little extra ginger bite and plenty of warm spices, these are terrific slathered with salted butter. Autumn in a muffin! I like baking these in Nordicware’s Autumn Delights cakelet pan for extra charm.
(My kids don’t love the candied ginger pieces, so feel free to skip those if you aren’t feeding ginger-lovers. They’ll still be yummy. You might want to up the sugar by 1/4 – 1/2 cup in that case.)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup jaggery or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 c. chopped candied ginger, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two small muffin pans with Baker’s Joy (or butter and flour, or use liners).
2. Measure out flour, sugars, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl and whisk together.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined; stir in candied ginger.
4. Bake muffins for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Funfun. Also, I have a new mixer, which is pretty (deep blue! clear glass bowl which lets you see marshmallows whipping up and transforming!), but which I don’t know how to use. Pro-tip — test your tools in advance!