My Fall Macaron Line

ganache-filled macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

When I was introduced to macarons in Paris two years ago, the puffy almond meringue sandwich cookies and I became fast friends. I was captivated by the delicate smooth crisp shell, ruffled “feet,” chewy-soft interior, and shiny, creamy fillings, of these oh-so-French confections. But mostly I was seduced by the dazzling array of colors and flavors that beckoned from bright displays at the likes of Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, and countless other patisseries around the city.


Blackcurrant Violet. Chocolate Passionfruit. Pistachio Caramel. Oh, the limitless possibilities…

So this month’s Daring Bakers challenge excited and inspired me. I can do that! With almond meringue as my medium, my creativity will be unleashed and I too will present an eye-popping parade of macaron artistry.

And that is exactly what I did. I managed to make several varieties of macarons, and I’m pretty excited about how they turned out. I figure my line is broad enough that I’m all set to open my own macaronerie. Soon I’ll be taking orders for:

The Underbaked Macaron
A thin, crisp shell (with feet!) surrounding a wet, sticky, married-to-the-silpat mess.

underbaked macarons

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Secrets of Failure

[This space reserved for a gorgeous photo that didn't happen.]

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I am happy to report that the planets have aligned, the ships have come into port, and all is once again right with the world. After two months of Daring Bakers successes, I can once again plant a tick mark firmly in the FAIL column.

And there’s even an added bonus: It was cookies. I was defeated by cookies! Not something even a little hard like genoise or lemon meringue. Who the hell is ever undone by cookies?

So yes! I can once again lay claim to the the title of world’s worst non-yeast baker. Go me!

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Daring Bake(r)well Tart with Reliable Cherry Jam

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800′s in England.

Talk about a no-brainer.

No, I don’t usually use that term in conjunction with a Daring Bakers’ challenge. But in considering what I would use to fill this month’s Bakewell Tart (pudding, whatever)…well, if it’s June in this part of California, we’re talking cherries. No need to pull out the old thinking cap for that one.

And what a glorious cherry season we’ve had this year. You know how you always feel like you need to taste cherries before buying to make sure they’re not too sour, or too mushy, or just plain tasteless? Well, not this year. I mean, I don’t think I’ve put one single bad cherry in my mouth.

From farmers markets, from roadside stands, from the open-air market across the street from my clinic, even from the supermarkets, they’ve been good. And by good I mean perfect. And by perfect I mean firm, sweet, juicy, and 100% reliable. You just can’t do any better than reliable cherries. Like a good night’s sleep, reliable cherries make your problems a little less problematic, and the sweet stuff just that much sweeter.

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Rolling the Rhubarb

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I have a large piece of natural linen that until this week had been sitting around waiting for me to cut it into pieces for lining proofing baskets, or maybe sew a pair of summer pants. Not any more. Thanks to this month’s Daring Bakers strudel challenge, this linen is now designated as my Official Strudel-Pulling-and-Rolling Cloth.

Because I’m sure I’ll be making strudel again. Who knew gluten without yeast could be this fun, this easy, and this good?

The only problem with the cloth is the color; it exactly camouflages the strudel dough, making it impossible for me to show off my tissue-thin sheet. See what I mean?

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My Spaghetti Lasagna Western

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Lasagna

A Daring Bakers Film
Produced and Directed by Susan
Screenplay by Mary (Beans and Caviar), Melinda (Melbourne Larder),
and Enza (Io Da Grande)
Based on “Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna”
from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

The Good:

  • It tasted great. The family loved it. There was not a single sliver left over.
  • The Béchamel sauce was lump-free.
  • I tried, I really tried, to roll by hand. I rolled a quarter of the dough by hand. Therefore, I think I was a good, or at least semi-dutiful, Daring Baker.

The Bad:

  • My hand-rolling was a complete and total failure. I just could not get that thing to roll without ripping. I think my dough was too wet, because the directions said it should feel sticky. When I make pasta to roll by machine, it doesn’t feel sticky (or maybe my definition of sticky is different), but I thought maybe something about hand-rolling needed the dough to be stickier. In retrospect, I don’t think so.
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When Asbestos Fingers Would Come In Handy


First off, here’s the requisite fine print, so I don’t get kicked off the Daring Bakers’ books, especially after failing to do last month’s challenge:

“This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.” The challenge also ordered us to pair the tuiles with “something light,” leaving the whole thing well open to creativity and interpretation.

Now I realize there may be a few questions at this point:

  1. Karen and Zorra are bread bakers extraordinaire. Why didn’t they pick a bread recipe?
    • Karen and Zorra are complex women of many talents. We should all be so gifted.
  2. What’s that stuff on top?
    • Crab salsa.
  3. You put crab salsa on top of a cookie. What have you been smoking?
    • Actually, we had a secret savory option as well: cornets from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook.
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