Thursday, July 30, 2015

Art Deco/NY Skyline Wedding Cake


Some of you have probably already seen this if you follow me on Facebook, but for those who haven’t, may I present… A cake! As usually happens when I don’t have any new tutorials, I am posting pictures of my latest cake creation. This one was a real treat to make!

The theme was Art Deco and the New York Skyline, in gold and light blue. I love being able to make so many different styles of cakes; it’s so interesting and always provides a challenge.

Pretty, isn’t it? Very sharp, I thought. :)


Congratulations Stavroula and Simeon! Wishing you all the best in your lives together.

Back soon,

—Naomi

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nutella/Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies [Recipe]


Some of you may know that I lived in Germany for 6 months; and well, if I learned anything about German people while I was there, it's that they--love--Nutella. A lot. Either that or the whole world loves Nutella and I was somehow in the dark on that one (it's like a once-in-3-years kind of treat in my house). Regardless, while I was there I had the opportunity to teach a baking class to a bunch of teenagers, and I wanted to come up with something that they would all enjoy making. So, I made up a recipe with the golden ingredient - Nutella - and they loved it. Success!

Side note, I didn't actually use Nutella brand to make the cookies for this tutorial; hence, the reason that the name of this recipe is not specifically called "Nutella Cookies." Any chocolate hazelnut spread should work for this.

Wanna learn how to make them? Read on!


(Note: I made a double batch for this tutorial.)

Nutella/Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Makes approx. 2 dozen.

Ingredients:
1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1 egg, separated
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. baking cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. chopped or slivered hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts (I am using chopped peanuts in this tutorial; chopped nuts are easier to work with than slivered ones.)
Nutella or another chocolate hazelnut spread (about 1/2 c.)
Melting chocolate, optional (for drizzle)



1.  In a medium-large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolk, milk and vanilla. Mix to combine.

2.  Sift in the flour, cocoa, and salt; mix to combine, kneading with your hands if it is too difficult to stir.


3. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until using (you can make the cookies right away, no problem).

4. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Shape the dough into walnut-sized pieces, dip each ball into the beaten egg white, and roll with chopped nuts.



5.  Press the cookies onto non-stick baking pans, making a deep indentation in the middle with your thumb. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until the nuts are lightly golden and the cookie centres look dry (they will have a wet unbaked look if they aren't ready).  




6.  When the cookies are done, using the back of a spoon, re-enforce the indentations in the middle of each cookie while they are still warm (they will have risen up in the oven a little bit). Cool completely on wire racks.



7.  Spoon some chocolate hazelnut spread into a prepared piping bag, snip of the tip, and pipe some of it into the centre of each cookie to fill it up (if you do this while the cookies are warm, the filling will melt and you will have to let it set again before you can serve them).

Note: Not sure how to prepare a piping bag? Check out This Tutorial to see! Or, for the sake of convenience, just spoon some filling into the corner of a ziplock bag and snip off the corner for a makeshift piping bag.





8.  If you like, you can melt a bit of dark or milk chocolate melting wafers and put it into a plastic squeeze bottle, piping bag, or ziplock bag with the tip/corner snipped off in order to drizzle the tops of the cookies. Allow the chocolate to set before serving.

You're done! Serve with a glass of cold milk or a good cup of coffee. :)





Enjoy!

Back soon,

--Naomi

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Miniature Cherry Pies [Recipe]


Cherry pie: If there's anything filled with nostalgia as being "The best dessert ever," from my childhood, this would be it. I remember one time in particular, my mom had made a large dessert spread sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we had a group of people come over to visit for a few hours. There, in the centre of the table, stood a glorious cherry pie. It may as well have had a light shining down on it, with a angelic choir singing in the background - I remember being awed... and staring at it, long and hard, hoping that if I kept my eye on it, I'd get a piece before it was all gone.

Well hopefully I've matured *a little* since then; I no longer stare the pie down in order to make sure I get a piece. But I do still love a good cherry pie; especially when you've made the filling yourself with some good home-grown sour cherries... Mm. There's nothing like it.

Here's a smaller version of that glorious pie for you, able to be made with your own cherry pie filling or the stuff you get from the store. Either way, cherry pie is always a good idea. And talk about pretty! #win


Miniature Cherry Pies
Makes approx. 2 dozen

Ingredients:
1 recipe of my Easy Pie Pastry
Cherry pie filling 
Water
Coarse sugar

Note: You can make these with some of my other recipes for a different variation! Try my Rhubarb SauceStrawberry Sauce, or Raspberry Sauce for the filling instead. Just make the recipe as per the directions, except substitute the amount of cornstarch to equal 1 rounded Tbsp. corn starch per 1 c. of fruit in the sauce recipe. 

1.  Prepare the pastry as per the recipe instructions. Next, take about 1/5 of the pastry and press it into a 6" circle on a lightly floured work surface. Dust your rolling pin with a bit of flour, and roll the pastry out till it's about 1/8" thick (turning the dough as you work with it to make sure it's not sticking to the table; if you find it sticking, dust with a bit more flour and continue rolling.)

Important: See my notes and tips on working with pastry on the Easy Pie Pastry recipe! 


2.  Using a 4" biscuit cutter, cut out circles of pastry and press each one into a muffin tin.


3.  Fill each pie shell with cherry pie filling, taking care not to over fill them (too much filling will make them overflow in the oven and make a mess on your oven and pans). You'll probably want to get about 4-5 cherries into each pie, as pictured.



4. Roll out another piece of dough and cut into 1/4" strips. Using your fingertips, moisten the edges of each pie crust with a bit of water, and press the strips onto the dough (as picture below) into an "X" shape, alternating which direction you lay the dough strips. Trim the excess and set aside.

5.  Using a cake crimper dusted with flour or the back of a fork, crimp the edges of the pies to seal the loose lattice pieces of pastry to the edges of the crust.







6.  Again, use your fingertips to brush a little bit of water across the top of each pie; sprinkle with coarse sugar.




7.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Tip: Pastry likes a good burst of heat; heat your oven to 425 degrees F, and then reduce the temperature to 375 once the pies are in there and the door is shut.

Enjoy!








Have some extra pastry? Try making some Miniature Lemon Meringue Pies, or my recipe for What to Do with Leftover Pie Pastry

Happy baking,

--Naomi

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Miniature Lemon Meringue Pies [Tutorial]


They're small - they're fabulous - and they're incredibly simple to make. Yes, you heard me correctly. YOU could be eating these very soon.

And here's all you gotta do to teleport this much awesome from your computer into your kitchen.

You Will Need:
 - 1 recipe of my Easy Pie Pastry
 - Lemon Pie Filling, prepared as your recipe says or as per the package directions with 2 extra egg yolks
 - Meringue, prepared according to your recipe (using 4 egg whites total), or doubled as per your lemon pie filling package directions (use your extra 2 egg whites to do this)
 - Large piping bag OR ziplock bag

1.  Prepare pie pastry as per the link given above. Next, press a piece of the pastry dough onto a lightly floured work surface till it is about 6" in diameter (15cm), dust the top with a bit more flour, and roll it out until it's about 1/8" thick, dusting the surface with more flour as needed to avoid the pastry sticking. 


2.  Using a 4" biscuit cutter, cut circles out of the dough, collecting the scraps and wrapping in plastic for later use. Always roll out fresh pastry for each batch of circles until you run out - then start to re-roll the scrap pieces (see pastry recipe for notes on rolling).


3.  Lightly press the pastry circles into 2 muffin tins, and prick the dough through with a fork a few times (as pictured).


4.  Bake the pastry shells at 375 degrees F or until lightly golden around the edges. Set aside to cool.


5.  Prepare your pie filling as per the package directions + 2 extra egg yolks. Spoon the filling into the baked pie shells.

6.  Prepare the meringue as per the package directions, only double the recipe to use the extra 2 egg whites. Spoon the meringue into a large piping bag or ziplock bag and snip off enough of the end/corner to make a 3/4" cut. Pipe a cloud of meringue onto each pie to completely cover the lemon filling, making sure the meringue goes right to the edge of the pastry.




7.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. I like mine a little longer, for the toasted marshmallow look - but you can go a little lighter if you want to.



8.  Eat. Or serve. Or serve and eat. Whatever you want - they are yours. This recipe makes about 2 dozen.

Oh, and Click Here to see what you can do with your leftover pastry.



Congratulations, your kitchen just got a little more awesome. Share this recipe with a friend! And don't forget to leave me a comment.

Bye for now!

--Naomi