Functional and Charming

One more batch of madeleines for the treat boxes. I’m experimenting with different types of packaging, and I really like these little waxed paper bags. $7 for a 100 4×6 bags; good deal. Functional and charming. 

I had some extra melted chocolate at the end, so went ahead and dipped half a box of strawberries in there. Such an easy way to surprise and delight the family.

“Are those strawberries for us???”

Yes, yes they are.

Another Swing-and-a-Miss

This is another swing-and-a-miss. I like my chocolate-spiced cookies; the hint of cayenne brings out the chocolate beautifully, and the dough takes embossing well, letting me have fun with decorating. But they’re a little plain, and they seemed to be crying out to become sandwich cookies. I could’ve gone with an Oreo-type filling, which honestly would likely have worked better, but I thought a mango filling would taste even better with the chocolate and cayenne. So far so good…

…but I had some homemade mango curd left in the fridge, and I think that’s where my frugal instincts betrayed me, because I tried to make that into a filling, mixing it with confectioner’s sugar and melted butter. It tastes nice, but it was just too goopy, my friends. If you refrigerate it for an hour, and then pull it out to serve, I think you’d be okay for a bit, but after 30 minutes, it’d soften so much that it’d be squishing out filling with every bite, which not ideal.

Back to the drawing board — I need to figure out a good mango cream filling from scratch, instead of attempting a false economy. Can do. (I wonder if I can use amchur powder to get strong mango flavor, without the moisture of the mangoes themselves? Hmm….)

A Qualified Success

Hm. I’m going to call this recipe a qualified success. I went looking for lemon bars with cashew and coconut, because I thought that might be nice, and I found this recipe, which I think might actually be gluten-free, as the entire base is just cashew, coconut, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt. That part is pretty yummy.

The lemon bit, though, tastes…healthy? Even though I upped the honey from what they suggested. I mean, it’s nice, and both Kavi and Kevin said it was good too, and we’ve certainly been eating them, so I guess if you want a healthy-dish lemony snack, this is a good option.

But when I want a lemon bar, I don’t usually want something that’s good for me, you know? I want a puckeringly sour, but also beautifully sweet dessert, and this isn’t that. I think I’m going to try again, probably marrying elements of this crust (which I really did like) with a completely different lemon bar for the filling. Interesting.

Chocolate-Dipped Madeleines with Passionfruit Flakes

I’m not going to write up a recipe for these, because I pretty much just used The Kitchn’s recipe for the madeleines themselves — first time making them, wanted something reliable. I didn’t have lemons, so I used lime zest instead, and used Baker’s Joy to spray the pans instead of making a melted butter+flour combo, but otherwise, followed their recipe pretty exactly.

These came out great, with the characteristic ‘hump’ that Paul Hollywood seemed so obsessed by on GBBO.

Then I melted some semi-sweet chocolate (1/2 power in the microwave for a few minutes, stirring) and dipped them, laying on parchment paper. Easy-peasy way to dress them up, and while a naked madeleine is just perfect with a cuppa, the chocolate makes it more of an eat-by-itself dessert.

I added passionfruit flakes, just for a little extra sparkle and a touch of tang. Honestly, you can barely taste them, but still, a little extra fun.  Will be including a few of these in the September treat boxes…hope the chocolate doesn’t melt in shipping!

Oh No, I Had to Eat It

Started working towards the September Patreon treat boxes. (Reminder — I only offer a limited number of these, so there’s only, um, 8 of 25 spots left? I think so. $10 / month for a box once a quarter.) This is a nice, simple chocolate combo I’m enjoying — semi-sweet chocolate with goji berries and coconut. One bar might have broken apart when I was unmolding it, so oh no, I had to eat it. Alas.

(Seriously, though, I need to up my activity levels a bit this month, because when I’m making a lot of sweets, I have to taste them, and that way lies a much rounder Mary Anne unless action is taken. I actually put my Fitbit watch back on again a few days ago, and yesterday, I added in an extra walk instead of driving to the drugstore to pick up my meds and hit 10,000 steps for the first time in forever. Slept better too. Activity, good.)

The Smell of Melting Butter

The smell of melting butter is just fantastic. And if you’ve been running a little harried, being forced to just stand still and watch the butter melting for a few minutes is rather lovely. (Somehow, the last few days have been particularly hectic, working often for 12-14 hours straight, with most of it requiring my brain, which is tiring.)

Made a jaggery brown butter glaze for the banana bread scones, glazed them, then froze them for the September Patreon treat boxes. They’re so tasty — I really love these; hope the recipients do too.

I realized this morning that I kind of want feedback on those treat boxes — if you got one and feel like sharing, would love to hear what you liked, what didn’t work, etc. Constructive criticism is good! I want recipients to be utterly delighted with their boxes, and I’m still new enough at this that it’s definitely a learning experience for me.

And the June box was definitely a challenge, since I was so fretful about things melting — it meant I didn’t feel like I could rely on marshmallows and chocolates the way I could in March.

Y’know, Delicious

Heh. Couldn’t find my mini scone pan, and with close to a quadruple batch, would’ve spent forever baking if I’d used it anyway, so I just went for tray bakes. I’ve seen triangular scones and round scones — not sure I’ve ever seen rectangular scones? And I think I overworked it slightly (or Kevin did), as the consistency is kind of halfway between scone and cake. But, y’know, delicious. 

Will let these cool, then make a jaggery & brown butter glaze. Some of them are going out in a birthday present treat box tomorrow; the rest will be frozen and set aside for the September Patreon treat boxes. If I don’t want to be frenzied when it’s time to send those out, it seems like it makes sense to make and freeze as much as I can in advance.

I think I want to make some kind of lime & coconut bar next, probably drizzled with white chocolate. Coconut in the crust sounds tasty.

Recipe for the scones here: http://serendibkitchen.com/…/banana-scones-with-cranberry-…/

Eat the Darn Bananas

That feeling when your arm gets too tired stirring a triple batch of banana scones (with cranberry and ginger), and you have to call your husband to finish stirring them, and you realize that no, you would never survive the Great British Bake-Off. 

I am going to try to remember not to attempt this again. We just had SO MANY black bananas in the freezer.

Children, eat the darn bananas before they get overripe. Okay? Okay.

Lime, Rosewater, and Candied Ginger Shortbread, decorated with Pansies and Violas

When you find yourself going back into the kitchen to see if there are any crumbs left on the plate, you know you have a winning recipe; I think this is now my absolute favorite shortbread. Adding in some citric acid gives a seriously tangy punch to these buttery-rich bites.

Note: I find that a pair of kitchen shears is much easier to work with than a knife for cutting up sticky crystallized ginger.

Ingredients:

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 c. sugar

2 scraped vanilla beans or 2 t. pure vanilla extract

3/4 t. salt

1 lime, zest and juice

1 t. citric acid (optional)

1 T rosewater

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped fine

edible flowers, pressed flat (this can be done over a few weeks in the pages of a book, or done quickly in a microwave or with an iron — google for instructions on those processes)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla and salt, citric acid, lime juice, lime zest, and rosewater. Then add flour and mix on low until dough forms. Stir in ginger.

3. Turn out dough onto floured board. (If it’s not coming together into a dough, the heat of your hands will help.) Firmly pat flat (to desired cookie height, usually about 1/2 inch). If using cookie cutters, cut out shapes, place on parchment-covered baking sheet, and chill for 15 minutes (to help hold shape).

NOTE: Can be kept chilled at this point for several days, covered in plastic wrap, and then rolled, cut, and baked fresh.

Alternately, press into baking pan or shortbread mold, prick with fork. You can also cut shapes out after baking — shortbread is very forgiving that way — but then the individual cookie edges won’t be browned.

4. Remove from fridge and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown, then remove to wire rack to cool.

5. Gently press flowers into the tops of cookies while still warm; the moist heat should help it adhere. If any don’t stick, a little fondant dissolved in warm water makes an excellent edible glue.  Sprinkle with a little sugar.

*****

(I appear to have graduated to the BIG bags of candied ginger. The Patreon treat boxes will be getting one each of the large rounds and little hearts. The elephants, it turns out, are very tricky to un-mold, so getting sixteen of them without broken trunks was quite beyond me. I’m just not that patient, I think…we’ll just have to eat those.)