Now that Roses are Blooming

Now that the roses are blooming, we can start making all the edible rose things. I used a bit of rose extract, lemon extract, and lemon oil in these lollipops, then sprinkled in dried rose petals and luster dust. Fit for a princess. 

Now, I really don’t know how you’re supposed to work fast enough to make a whole batch of lollipops before the sugar cools too much. I got about halfway through, and then I needed to reheat, which of course caramelizes the sugar more. So the second batch of lollipops is distinctly caramel in flavor, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the rose & lemon notes do get lost. I think I’m just not fast enough, and should work in half-batches.

I mean, not that I’m planning to make a ton of lollipops, these were just for the June treat boxes, but still, good to know. Maybe we’ll put them in a Serendib Confections cookbook someday.

Playing with Sugar Syrup

More playing with sugar syrup. Now I have to make a cake so I can use some of this to decorate it. Apparently sugar art doesn’t keep very long, tending to melt (you can store it in an airtight container with desiccant to help it last a little while longer, but still), but maybe I can manage some cake for Sunday dinner this weekend.

That third photo is all one piece. It reminds me of Gallifreyan Time Lords. 

Sugar Art

I had some sugar syrup left, so I thought I would try to do sugar art for the first time. I’m here to tell you, it’s not as simple as they make it look on GBBO!  I’m honestly not sure how you’re supposed to get the sugar traceries out of the bowls without breaking them.

The bowls are greased, but the sugar seemed to cling anyway — maybe I should’ve been more careful to grease the rim too?

The sugar also collected at the base, which is okay, but not the tracery I was hoping for. I think that might be because it was still a little too hot and liquid, though — this was at 300-degrees F (for the lollipops), and maybe sugar art should be at a slightly lower temp?

An Ode to the Pansy

Harvested pansies and violas today after doing the morning’s hour of weeding. We’re getting to the end of the season for them, though they’ll come back in the coolness of fall, so if you pull them out of planters to do summer annuals, do stick them in the ground somewhere if you can. Now is the perfect time to cut some for:

– candying (egg whites and superfine sugar, perfect for the top of a cake or cupcakes)
– pressing (to make botanical art — bookmarks, cards, etc.)
– adding them to cookies (look for pansy shortbread)
– making flower lollipops
– adding them to a Vietnamese spring roll wrap
– just tossing them into salads

I harvested all the pretty ones, cut off all the fading ones, and will probably get at least one more flush before it gets too hot, fingers crossed.

If you didn’t plant pansies or violas or violets this year, do think about them for the fall, or next spring. You can plant them very early, since they can tolerate a little frost, so they really give months and months and months of pleasure. One of the most hard-working flowers in my garden, and so cheery. Now I want to write an ode to the pansy…

Ruby Chocolate with Pear

Ruby chocolate with pear and a drizzle of white chocolate. Tasty. And you know how it’s satisfying to unwrap a piece of foil, especially if you spread it out really flat? It’s also sort of satisfying to wrap one, it turns out. Odd that it’s nice, but it is.

Embossed Spiced Chocolate Cookies

Embossed Spiced Chocolate Cookies
(makes about 50 medium size cookes)

This is a good base chocolate cookie for embossing, with a little spicing for interest, and a touch of cayenne for warmth and to enhance the chocolatey-ness — but not enough to make it actually taste spicy. Do remember to chill for at least 10 minutes after molding / cutting, so the cookies don’t spread.

5 c. flour
1 c. cocoa powder
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cayenne
1/2 t. ground cloves
1 lb. butter, softened
2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 vanilla bean pods, scraped (or 2 teaspoons vanilla)
for decorating: embossing pin, cookie cutter, embossing dust, vodka (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and spices.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until well-combined.

3. Slowly add the flour mixture at low speed, pausing and scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until the dough is well combined.

4. Dust the surface of your cutting board and rolling pin; roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick.

5. If embossing, roll the embossing pin across the dough, creating an impression. Then cut out cookies in the shapes desired. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

6. Chill for at least 10 minutes in the fridge, then immediately bake in a preheated oven, approximately 10-12 minutes. Cool on a rack and enjoy. (If desired, mix luster dust with a bit of vodka and brush on to highlight embossing effects.)

Sugar Cookies for the ICU Staff

I haven’t made sugar cookies in quite a while, and oh, when you don’t do things for a bit, you forget all the little technique tricks — or maybe that’s just me. I got pretty frustrated trying to ice these cookies — first the icing was too thick and wouldn’t come out cleanly, then I added too much hot water and made it too thin, which made a big mess. Sigh.

Finally I got it just right, and it was so easy after that, though it means my end results are very far from professional in neatness. I should’ve taken a few minutes to get the consistency right before trying to ice! But in the end, happy enough with how they came out, and hopefully the ICU staff will appreciate them.

At least this way, it’s clear they’re homemade, right? 

Thanks, healthcare workers. I wish I could feed you all cookies.

Sugar cookie recipe from Sweetopia (and yes, use the real vanilla bean, it makes a difference), royal icing recipe from Alton Brown.

Getting Silly with Leftovers

Ruby and white chocolate blended, with passionfruit marshmallow bits. I made passionfruit marshmallows to send out to some ICU staff, and that involves cutting off the edges (to leave neat squares), and I can’t stand wasting food, so I end up doing silly things like this with the leftover bits.

Dragonfruit Marshmallows

The flavor of the dragonfruit comes through more strongly in marshmallows than in chocolate, so it’s a little startling if you’re not used to that flavor! Honestly, I will pick passionfruit over dragonfruit any day.

But that said, it’s interesting and fruity, I’ll happily eat a few in a row, and if you’re looking to make a pretty dessert without using food coloring, this is a great option — it’s just colored with pure dehydrated dragonfruit powder.

I’m going to try dipping in chocolate and sprinkling more dragonfruit powder on the top — will report back with more photos, next week, probably. 

*****

Dragonfruit Marshmallows, with Honey, Lime, and White Pepper

1/2 c. lime juice
1/4 t. white pepper
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 T dragonfruit powder
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
butter (for greasing the pan)

1. Add lime juice, white pepper, gelatin and dragonfruit powder to the bowl of stand mixer (whisk attachment). Stir briefly to combine.

(NOTE: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can make marshmallows in a large bowl with a hand mixer — you just have to be willing to hold and beat it for 12 minutes. Prep the pan and spatula for the marshmallows ahead of time.)

2. In a small saucepan (a bigger one will be heavy and hard to hold steadily at a later stage) combine water, granulated sugar, 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.

3. 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.

4. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 minutes.

5. While it’s whipping, butter a large 9 x 12 pan and dust with powdered sugar. Prepare an oiled spatula.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with an oiled spatula.

7. Dust the top with enough of the remaining powdered sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

8. 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.