Monday, December 5, 2011

Apple Cranberry Crisp

The Holidays are a bag of mixed emotions for me. On one hand, I work really, really hard to make cakes and desserts and pies for not only my own family but yours too! I deal with customers who only want to make their Holidays perfect, but seem to take out their frustrations on me, the lowly customer service associate who is obviously only there to release their wrath onto because their pie is the most important pie in the world!

But on the other hand, the joyful, warm and happy hand…there are Christmas trees; filled with brightly colored ornaments and that particular scent of douglas fir that is only rivaled by my apple crisp coming out of the oven. There is something about baking Holiday treats for my friends and family that makes me forget about all of the stress at work, and all of the other stresses that make the December issue of any women’s magazine full of stories about “How to Get Through the Holidays Stress Free!” That will never happen, but when I take out my OriginalCinn-amon rolls on Christmas morning, I know that all the work I put into them and every other cookie, pie and cupcake I make for my friends and family will remind me how lucky I am and how much I love life.

This recipe is for my Apple Cranberry Crisp. I have been making it for many years and have put it in different variations on my menus. My boss had a really soft spot for anything with streusel on it! I use Fuji apples because they have enough structure and flavor for cooking. This is by far the best recipe for people who have an aversion to measuring because it can be sweetened, flavored and manipulated to suit your tastes. If you want to soak the cranberries in Grand Marnier before adding them to the recipe, go right ahead, if you want to scrap the cranberries and use golden raisins instead, do it! Also, the telling signs of doneness are simply bubbly filling and a browned crisp topping. Pretty simple, huh?

The crumble or streusel is made by adding melted butter to flour, sugar and spices. The idea is getting butter to completely envelop each grain of flour, sugar and spices to form the crumble, resulting something incredibly crunchy and sweet when it is baked. You may need to add a little more butter if you use nuts or oats, but you can just use your discretion. This recipe can be added to coffee cake, muffins or pie you’d like and you will only use about half.

Apple Cranberry Crisp

6 Fuji Apples, cored and cut into 12 slices

2 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour

¼ cup Brown Sugar

¼ cup Granulated Sugar

½ Vanilla Bean, split and scraped

1 ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon

¼ tsp Fresh ground nutmeg

Zest of ¼ Orange

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 cup Dried Cranberries

Preheat oven to 375°

1. Mix together the flour, spices, sugar and then toss them with the apple slices.

2. Add the vanilla extract, cranberries and orange zest.

3. Place the apple mixture into a 9x9 inch glass or ceramic pan.

4. Top the apples with the crumble and bake until bubbly and brown. About 40 minutes.

Crumble Topping Makes enough for 2 Apple Crisps
3 cups AP Flour,

½ cup Sugar

½ cup Brown Sugar

½ cup Nuts or Oats (optional)

½ tsp Cinnamon

¾ tsp Salt

8oz. Butter, Melted

1. Mix all dry ingredients until well combined.

2. Add the melted butter slowly, combining the dry ingredients until small marble sized balls form. Tossing gently with your hands as opposed to mixing with a spoon or spatula will form a crumble.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday OriginalCinn!

Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Concord Grape Tapioca and Sorbet with Basil

It has just occurred to me that OriginalCinn has been up and active for two years. With the way this year has gone, with so many things happening, I am happy to turn to my small apartment oven and bake up something that will make it all better. With so many things left unknown, I can be sure that if pie dough does not rest, that pesky gluten will get very upset and sink down into your pie in defiance.

I have learned so many things in my career, things about cooking and baking at home, in restaurants, in bakeries and for my business. I learned that being a woman in a professional kitchen will undoubtedly, even if only once, will make you feel like you are better suited for folding socks and making ambrosia salad. I learned that when I have a line full of tickets, and it’s time to “fire” them all in 10 minutes, that you’d better not speak to me because I have a fu**ing job to do. I’ve become stronger and have encountered so many things in the last two years that have tested who I am and have made me realize why I do what I do.

I love it.

Simple…I love it. Regardless of how many readers, how cluttered my apartment gets with containers of caramel and chocolate sauce, dishes and electrical appliances. Regardless of how many sample boxes I give, or weight I gain to make this ‘thing’ I do something I am proud of. And I am, because in spite of all those things, it makes me feel like I can tell you, whoever is reading what I have to say though food and what I feel through food, something I love so deeply.
The whole reason I thought about how OC has been up for two years is because I made a comment about blogging because you love it. I think constantly about this blog and myself as a professional and I was thinking about the blog post that will address people’s fears and put them into a holiday cheat sheet sort of thing. BAM! “Oh my goodness, Its been two years!”

So thank you readers, my friends, my family and the very few who are not related to me somehow for being a part of OriginalCinn…something I never really thought I could commit to for any long stretch of time. But here I am, ready for some big things in the coming year and completely in love with baking, writing and photography.


This recipe uses whole seeded grapes from the farmer’s market. They are available for a short time in the fall and if you have never worked with concord grapes, you must try them. They are the flavor of most bottled grape juices so if you want, you can use grape juice concentrate to make this sorbet and add a drop of two of rosewater to get the beautiful floral undertones you get from fresh grapes.

Concord Grape Sorbet

3lbs Concord Grapes +1/4 cup of sugar

1 ½ cups Simple Syrup

¼ cup Corn Syrup

Pinch of salt

Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon

Remove grapes from their stem, and put in a large pot with ¼ cup of sugar. Heat until the grapes look full and are about to pop and have given off some juice.

Strain the juice into a measuring cup and you will have about 3-4 cups add 3/4 cup of simple syrup.

Put the grapes back into the pot and mash with a potato masher. Spend about 10 minutes picking out the seeds by hand…you will not get all of them.

Push through a strainer getting as much juice and pulp as you can.

Spend about 5 more minutes picking out seeds, then puree the remaining skin and pulp, 3/4 remaining simple syrup, 2 cups of juice, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust sweetness, tartness or both!

Strain that mixture and you should have about 3 cups. Add the zest of one lemon; stir and pour into your ice cream maker.

Freeze, and then pour into a container to freeze at least 6 hours.

(use the remaining juice for cooking tapioca, or reduce to make it into syrup)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Caramelized Popcorn and Grape Soda Floats

Today is a happy day.

And this is a happy picture. Now here is a happy recipe!

Caramelized Popcorn
1 bag of popcorn, popped and kept warm (about 1.5oz)
4 Tbsp. Butter
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Light or dark corn syrup
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/2 cup Roasted, salted peanuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350

1.  Bring butter, brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil. When the mixture becomes foamy, it is done.
2. Add the peanuts and stir in the salt.
3. In a large bowl, pour the caramel over the popcorn and gently mix it, making sure to coat each piece of popcorn.
4. Pour out the popcorn onto a pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper that has been sprayed with pan spray.
5. Bake for 12 minutes, then take the pan out and stir the popcorn and rotate the pan. Bake for another 8-10 minutes or until it is a light amber color remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with kosher salt if desired.
6. Continue to mix and move the popcorn around the pan for about a minute to keep the pieces from sticking together. Once it cools completely, the caramelized popcorn will be light and crunchy.

For the floats, you can pour grape soda onto scoops of vanilla ice cream, or pour ginger ale over concord grape sorbet and vanilla ice cream.

Monday, October 31, 2011

And the winner is....


Taking out Teresa's comment (#1), because it is a conflict of interest as she wants me to keep all this great stuff, and taking out my comments, because well, the whole point was to give this stuff away, I entered numbers 2 and 9 into the random number generator at 5:00pm and.....drum roll....The winner is Bernie, #2!

Congratulations, Bernie and thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Do You Fear Most in the Sweet Kitchen?

What keeps a lot of people from baking is the science behind baking. Proper measuring, oven temperatures, mixing, tempering, soft peaks, firm peaks and so on. What I want to know is what freaks you out most about the sweet kitchen...baking and pastry and such. Leave a comment stating your fear and just a little bit about it and I will try to answer your questions and assuage your baking fears!
I would like to make the deadline one week from today. By Oct. 31st at 5pm Cali time submit your questions and you will be eligible to win a little prize pack!!
Have fun!

BONUS if you follow the blog! Click the link to follow OriginalCinn and if your comment is randomly chosen and you're a follower you get a bonus bottle of vanilla extract!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grown-Up Chocolate Syrup

Every so often I find myself really, I mean really wanting chocolate milk. I don't know, maybe it's the time of year. The time of year when oh so many years ago, I would get off the bus from school and sit down with a PB and J and a glass of chocolate milk...right before homework, during "Power Rangers".
And before I knew any better, when chocolate syrup came all sugary and not at all chocolaty enough, I chugged it, and savored every last drop and smacked my lips in delight. Tonight, I really wanted some chocolate milk because, oh you bet it was one of those days and a stiff drink wouldn't cut it and I made my own chocolate syrup. I could, just because I'm a grown up now, add a little shot of coffee liqueur, or raspberry liqueur, or maybe some whiskey!

Grown-Up Chocolate Syrup        Makes 8oz of syrup

5oz          Milk Chocolate, chopped and melted
1/4 cup    Cocoa Powder
1 1/4 cup Water
2+ tsp      Sugar (You can add more sugar, but I like it a little less sweet. You can also use raw sugar.)
1/2 tsp     Vanilla Extract
pinch        Salt

1.  Bring water to a boil.
2.  Place cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup of boiling water to the dry ingredients and whisk together until smooth.
3.  Add the remaining water, melted chocolate and vanilla extract and continue whisking until smooth.
4. Cool to room temperature.

To make chocolate milk (kind of silly, I know!)
Mix 2 tablespoons of syrup with 4oz. of milk.
**My preference is almond milk, the kind found in the dairy case not in the stuff in the box.

 The syrup will blend better if it is at room temperature, and will keep for a week in the fridge.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An Evening of Desserts with OriginalCinn

When I asked my friends if I should do a tasting for OriginalCinn Desserts I got a resounding and overwhelming, “Yes! Do it!” And at the time, I thought, “Well great, yeah, let’s do this.” So on Sunday September 25, I had the event that solidified my desire to make OriginalCinn into something that I could eventually turn into my livelihood.

I gathered close friends and family who have contributed to the blog and some who have already hired me for special desserts, wedding cupcakes and the anniversary cake. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to share this event with and I hope that the next event will include more people.
The best part of the whole evening for me was seeing all of the empty plates. I was so afraid that the lavender crème brulee would be too “out there” for some of my guests but it was definitely a favorite. The texture and subtle flavor of the rose macarons were also a big hit.

The funny thing is that I have absolutely no idea how everything I planned came out (almost) exactly the way I wanted it. I channeled every lesson I ever learned in my professional career to get this event to go off the way it did. I planned, I made lists and made everything over the course of a few days and did not panic. In between early morning and night shifts at work, and a really, really hard week full of events that I could only attribute to God himself testing my desire to come out of it alive. Of course, in the end, I should give myself plenty of credit, as it is something I never do. So I’ll take it, and give thanks to the wonderful people who sacrificed their own time and sanity to help make this happen…and I can’t wait to do it again.

On the menu:

Lavender and Mexican Vanilla Creme Brulee, Chai Spice Creme Brulee, Rose Macarons with Raspberry Jam Filling, Blueberry Macarons with Orange Blossom Filling, Mandarin Tapioca with Honey Yogurt Mousse, Pumpkin Profiteroles with Pepitas, Vegan Lemon Cupcakes, Red Velvet Cupcakes and Jagermeister Chocolate Cake Truffles

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Perils of Eating Frozen Wedding Cake

A few weeks ago my cousin’s wife wanted to surprise her husband with a small cake they could eat on their first anniversary. His choice for their wedding cake was chocolate cake with raspberry mousse and I, completely honored said, "Yeah! I would love to give you an excuse to throw away that frost bitten rock that has been sitting in your freezer amongst the hot pockets, chicken drummetes and unidentifiable leftovers that traveled 10 hours from Palm Springs...a year ago."
See, what happened was, the couple on their wedding day, in all of their wedded glory, could barely get away from the mingling, and dancing, and smiling to sit down and eat a piece of cake. But when they finally did, they found that the entire cake had been cut and served and the pieces that had been previously set at their table had mysteriously disappeared. The only thing that remained was the top tier which traditionally should be eaten on their first anniversary, so they couldn't slice that one up.

I modeled this cake after their original top tier and delivered it to their home. They took out the year-old, frozen rock of fondant then sliced into the cake I brought on their first anniversary. As romantic as the tradition of eating your cake a year later is, to me it's a little scary. Sure the cake is completely encased in sugar and is most likely perfectly harmless. But wouldn't the best reward for making it through the first year as a married couple be another cake? I think so.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

The Farmer's Market has been one of my favorite things to do on weekends. Since I was a little girl, my mom and I would walk around and just look at all of the beautiful produce that as an adult, I would learn to make into some really, really tasty dishes.

I have never ever made fried green tomatoes but for some reason at the farmer's market last Sunday, I saw these gorgeous green heirloom tomatoes and the thought just popped into my head. The week before, I had made caprese salad with red and yellow tomatoes and since I bought cauliflower, broccoli and these insanely orange carrots for lunch, I wanted to add something warm and crunchy to it.

There was no real recipe I followed to make them. At the restaurants I worked at, I saw a few variations on fried green tomatoes and well sorry, chefs but I wanted something completely different. One chef used actual, under ripe green tomatoes which is traditionally used but I wanted the flavor of really ripe, fresh tomatoes and so I chose heirlooms. Another chef coated them in tempura batter and deep fried them. The problem for me with this method is that the tomatoes are so delicate that they need to be cut on the thicker side to make sure they don't fall apart in the fryer. Plus, tempura batter just doesn't have enough flavor. I wanted them to be closer to the real, Southern comfort food. So, without any actual form or structured recipe, here's how I did it:

Take 3, ripe and firm, green heirloom tomatoes and cut them about 1/4 of an inch. Lay them on a sheet pan and salt each side to draw out a little bit of moisture. This keeps them from getting soggy.
Prepare your breading assembly line...
1 cup of flour with a teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder goes into a shallow dish.
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of buttermilk goes in another.
And a mixture of mostly regular seasoned breadcrumbs, with some panko breadcrumbs and a little bit of cornmeal goes into another dish. All together you will want about 2 cups of crumb/cornmeal. Does this make sense?? let me know if it doesn't :)
Now, prepare the oil in a pan. There should be enough so that the oil will come up half way over the tomatoes. In a 10 inch pan, I used about a cup and a quarter. Heat this over medium-high heat and get it hot enough so they immediately begin to bubble and fry once the tomatoes hit, then you can turn it down to medium.
While the oil is heating, coat the tomatoes in the flour mixture, then dip them in egg mixture then finish in the breadcrumbs.  Now you have about 10-12 slices ready to fry.
Gently lay the slices in the oil and let them cook until golden brown on both sides.
Let them drain on a paper towel, top with some freshly grated Parmesan and serve with a tangy ranch dip.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Ricotta Waffles with Peaches Blueberries and Granola

One of my favorite parts of doing this blog is the photography. I love setting everything up, getting everything just right and making sure everything looks delicious. There was a time when I had enough hours in the day to make sweet treats and photograph them and learn how to adjust light and backgrounds and figure out how to get better a food photography. But this picture was taken right before I took the first bite. My parents were sitting across the table, ready to eat their waffles and patiently waited for me to get a shot. Im sure they thought I was crazy because I was discussing the lighting and angle with T and everyone was waiting to eat!
I guess sometimes you have to let go of structure and just let food be food on a plate.

I really love this breakfast treat because its all of my favorite components of dessert that I absolutely love. The heat of the crisp waffle and warm peaches melted the ricotta slightly and released all of the sweet flavor of vanilla bean and orange zest. For texture, the granola adds crunch a little spice with, of course, cinnamon. I hope you enjoy these recipes, but for the record, I used waffle mix and added almond extract...shhh :)

Of course you can make french toast and use the recipes, you can serve the fruit over ricotta filled crepes too.
Simple Granola   
makes 8 cups
5 cups          Rolled Oats
1 3/4 cups    Sliced Almonds
3/4 cups       Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 tsp.        Ground Cinnamon
1/4 cup        Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup        Honey
2 Tbsp.        Maple Syrup
2 tsp.           Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350
1.  Combine the oats, almonds and brown sugar in a large bowl.
2.  Stir together oil, honey, maple syrup, extract and cinnamon. Heat in the microwave just slightly.
3.  Pour the wet ingredients over the oats and almonds and mix until everything is coated.
*You can freeze half of this mixture for up to two months and bake the rest for smaller batches, which is what I do, because it is quite a lot.
4.  Bake on one or two sheet pans for 15 minutes or until everything is dark golden brown. About half way through, take it out and stir the granola on the pan with a rubber spatula.
5.  Once the granola is completely cool, store it in an air tight container for about a week.

Ricotta Topping-Makes 4 servings
2 oz.       Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp.   Goat Cheese
1/4 cup   Sugar
Zest of half an orange
1/2 ea.    Vanilla Bean
8 oz        Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp.      Almond Extract

1.  Combine the first three ingredients and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla bean and the zest.
2.  Mix in the ricotta and almond extract. Done!

Peaches and Blueberries in Syrup-Makes 4 servings
2 ea         Large Yellow Peaches, peeled and cut into wedges
1 pint       Blueberries
1/3 cup    Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp.    Butter
1 tsp.       Vanilla Extract
a pinch of salt

1.  Melt butter and brown sugar in a large saute pan over medium heat
2.  Add the peaches and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.
3.  Add the blue berries and cook one more minute and remove right before the blueberries burst.
4.  Add the salt ad vanilla
4.  Divide and pour fruit and syrup over each waffle.

Top the waffle with a large scoop of ricotta topping and sprinkle granola over the top. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Cream Butter and Sugar Until Light and Fluffy"

 Oh my goodness...deep breath...keep going.
With all that has gone on with my family these past few months, I am completely exhausted, mentally and physically. Cancer is the pits. Readjusting our lives and making sure everyone in our little family is safe and sane and as comfortable as possible has taken precidence over almost anything. The last thing usually on the list is myself but lately, with everyone getting a little more used to whats going on, I can get back to what makes me happy.

Baking. "To bake is to breathe" says Mariel as she looks across the table at everything she just made. Lemon cake with raspberry jam and lemon buttercream to go with the batch of mini cupcakes filled with lemon curd, gluten free vanilla filled chocolate cupcakes and blueberry macarons.

There is simply nothing I would rather do all day, everyday than bake. I decorate cakes and cupcakes and make little sweet petites at work, but when I am able to take butter, sugar, flour and make it into anything I want, to be able to study it and develop it into what hopefully will end up as a little speck to be cleaned up by a napkin on someones delighted mouth, well, I am in heaven.

I am designing what hopefully will be a sucessful event where people can come and enjoy some dessert- the dessert that people have seen on this blog which hopefully could lead to some business, eventually leading up to the OriginalCinn empire that will over throw the over-buttered Mrs. Deen and the like. Although, Cat Cora and I should totally get together sometime because she is delightful...sigh...Anyway, planning this thing, is very exciting and quite a lot of fun. I am crossing my fingers and dotting my "I's" to make sure this event is well planned, and everything looks great and tastes fabulous.

It took me a little bit to be able to get back to baking, all things considered. But it is important to maintain a sense of self and to keep busy in a fun and productive way to stay positive and sane. So I just keep breathing, and keep going and keep baking as best as I can so all of this can go somewhere.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity

Simplicity is the probably the most valuable lesson I have learned in my years studying pastry. Foams, gels, liquid nitrogen ice creams are fun, technically challenging and a wonderful way to impart texture and flavor to a dessert. But without having to apply all that molecular stuff into desserts, all you are left with are ingredients.

Keeping the integrity of ingredients and making the flavors naturally stand out or making it taste like a better version of itself has always been the underlying philosophy of pastry for me. Death defying, architectural desserts half-swinging off the plate was never my thing. Cages of sugar wrapped around a ball of sweetened chemicals never caught my attention as something I wanted to eat…photograph, maybe, but never eat.

Cut to: The other night when T and I were craving something sweet. I took out a bar of Valhrona (my preferred brand of chocolate) 41% Jivara Lactee. The flavor of this chocolate is already spectacular; very milky, silky and lively to the senses. The temperature of my apartment was a little warm which gave the chocolate, lower in cacao some smoothness. I cut a few pieces, scattered some roasted, salted peanuts on the board and sprinkled some flaked sea salt on top. No fancy cooking techniques, no processing, just chocolate, peanuts and salt eaten off a cutting board and my sweet tooth was satisfied.

I would proudly serve this to anyone. Whether they paid for it or just came to my home because it was just so delicious and didn’t leave me overly full of sugar. The way sushi can be just raw fish and rice wrapped in seaweed, dessert can be a simple presentation of ingredients that just taste good together as a chocolate peanut picnic.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Alternative Music, Flax Meal and Peanut Butter Cookies!

Flax-Bran Muffins with a Soy Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
 I listened to the Alternative Rock station in San Jose when I was about 13 or so. KOME was the station to listen to if you wanted to hear Smashing Pumpkins, The Cranberries, Bush, Butthole Surfers and the like. My father walked into my room on a Saturday afternoon after hearing the lyrics, “The world is a vampire sent to drain…” and asked, “what is this noise? Where’s the music?” Of course his tape deck had a self recorded Beach Boys mix on it so what could I expect? It was what he knew and what he was comfortable with. I had no expectation that he would grasp the depth of Marcy Playground or the sheer genius of Thom Yorke’s brash voice solemnly crying, “But I’m a creep. I don’t belong here…”

He now holds his puzzled gaze toward the plate of gluten free cupcakes in front of him.

“Um, garbanzo flour? How is this supposed to taste like a cupcake?

Rest assured, father. It does!

Alternative flours have made their way into my father’s diet. He has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. A new way of eating has become a part of our lives and especially a new way of eating dessert. Whole wheat cookies, muffins made with oat bran and flax meal and cupcakes made with starches and garbanzo flour. We are just trying to stay away from processed foods, refined sugar and empty calories.

To my dad, alternative flour sound as melodic as Rage Against the Machine. But he listens, to me…stubbornly and that is all I could really ask for.

This recipe for Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies is what I used for ice cream sandwiches a few days ago. I spread a little jam on one side, scooped some vanilla on top and smashed them together. They are very soft and have a really wonderful honey flavor.

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

½ cup Butter, soft

1 cup Peanut Butter

¼ cup Honey

¼ cup Maple Syrup

⅓ cup Brown Sugar

2 ea. Eggs

1 tsp. Salt

1 ½ cup Whole Wheat Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

Preheat oven to 350°

1. Combine butters and mix in honey, maple syrup and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth.

2. Add eggs and salt and mix to combine.

3. Sift flour and baking powder together then add to the peanut butter mixture. Mix until a dough forms.

4. Drop cookies on a baking sheet 1 inch apart and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the edge.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bake Sale!

I am crazy excited to be a part of this incredible event. Im not too sure what to expect from this event although I am really looking forward to meeting other bloggers and raising some money for Share Our Strength.
For the bake sale I will be donating Vegan Lemon-Coconut Cupcakes, Mini Salted Ganache Brownies, Brown Butter Blondies and Rosemary Foccacia.
I plan on taking tons of pictures and writing a lot on the experience which Im sure will be tons of fun.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Love Affair With the French Macaron

The first time I came across a macaron was in San Francisco when I was in culinary school. The Ferry Building on the Embarcadero is the home of Miette Bakery, where my love affair began. A Box of six of these little “cookies” is $14.00…and I thought, how amazing are these cookies that they are over $2.00 each? Almost on principle I didn’t try them. But as a student of pastry, I felt the need to at least try one. My classmate selected a ganache filled chocolate macaron for me and I bit into it. A crunchy, smooth like an eggshell crust gave way to the center, it was like meringue, but firm and chewy and filled with creamy chocolate ganache. It was sweet and light and was like nothing I had ever tried before because the extent of my French cookie education was provided by Preppridge Farm.
Since then, they began to pop up in places I never wanted to see them and in conditions I never would want to eat them. [Fade in: the theme song to "Titanic"] These cookies are delicate, petite and just plain special; they don’t belong next to the protein plate at SBucks. OK OK I will stop my love song to the macaron…for now [cut music].

The only thing I have left to say is try one. Your life will forever be changed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maple Pecan Ice Cream

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite thing to make is, I say, “Ice Cream!” Not only is there quite a bit of science that goes into ice cream, there are endless possibilities for creating really unique flavors. I love ice cream, and yeah who doesn’t? But there is something incredibly satisfying about making your own and even though you can get a carton of strawberry ice cream at the grocery store, does it have only cream, milk, sugar, eggs and strawberries? Nope…it has about 20 other ingredients, not to mention strawberries that have no flavor, no color and no shape. Poor, poor carton of ice cream that will never live up to what comes out of my ice cream maker.
This recipe for Maple Pecan Ice Cream was created to go with my Brown Butter Blondies. There is about 1 teaspoon of maple extract and the rest is all maple syrup and the flavor of freshly toasted pecans.
Before one can get started making ice cream, you need to have a decent ice cream maker. I have a Cuisinart 1 quart ice cream maker with the canister you need to leave in the freezer for a day before you can whip up a creamy, frozen delight. This is kind of a drag, but it is the right price point for me and since I always keep the canister in the freezer, it’s not generally a problem…unless I want to spin 2 batches of ice cream, then I need to re freeze it. There are however, other more expensive models that you never have to freeze but they take up room on your counter and they are pretty expensive.
Whatever unit you choose, the second part is learning it. I’ve worked with machines that can produce ice cream in 8-12 minutes. My machine works in about 15 minutes, which is kind of a long time, especially on a hot day when the canister might not be able to freeze the ice cream fast enough in and you get a slightly less than perfect ice cream. Either way, you might go through a few batches before you get everything just right.
In a perfect situation, you will have a completely frozen canister, a slightly cooler room temperature and a completely chilled ice cream custard base. You will also need a food thermometer. I use a digital thermometer.

Maple Pecan Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop By David Lebovitz

1 ½ cups Whole Milk
2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 ½ cups Heavy Cream
½ ea Vanilla Bean
1 cup Pecans, toasted and chopped
5 ea. Large Egg Yolks
¾ cup Grade B Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Maple Extract (optional)
½ cup Candied Pecans, chopped (Trader Joe’s)

1. Bring the milk, brown sugar, sugar and cream to a simmer with the vanilla bean and 1 cup of pecans in a heavy sauce pot. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 30 minutes.
2. Whisk the egg yolks and maple syrup together and slowly ladle in the hot cream little by little whisking at the same time.
Note: Grade B Maple Syrup has a darker flavor. Grade A is too mellow, but if it is all you have, bring it to a boil, then simmer it until it is reduced by half. This concentrates the flavor. But be careful to watch it and not let it burn!
3. Return the egg/cream mixture to the pot and cook on medium high heat, with the thermometer and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot with a rubber spatula until it reaches 170°. (The temperature will continue to rise until you chill it so work quickly and do not let it get any higher than 180°. Overcooked custard=grainy ice cream)
4. Add extracts and salt. At this point, taste it. Make sure it tastes delicious to you!
5. Immediately pour custard through a strainer into a container submerged in an ice bath. This will allow the custard to cool quickly and safely. Stir occasionally until the custard is cool.
6. Remove from the ice bath, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. Waiting will allow the flavors to develop.
7. Pour the ice cream base into the canister of your ice cream maker and operate according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
8. Right before you stop the ice cream machine, pour in the chopped pecans and let the blade mix them in slightly. You can also, stop the machine and gently mix them in by hand if you are afraid to over-churn. Over-churned ice cream= fatty texture in your ice cream.
9. Pour into a container with a lid and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Brown Butter Blondies with Chocolate Chunks soon to follow!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Banana Curry Cupcakes

I have to admit...I was pretty scared about the outcome of the banana curry cupcakes. Most people I told were skeptical but I assured them that the flavors would be perfect together in a tiny cupcake.

In my head, the banana cake would be sweet but naturally sweet. Then the creamy texture of the buttercream would take the savory curry spices and make everything just a little sweeter but it would also convert those savory spices into a different flavor. Then I searched my mind's palate and thought, "hey, yeah thats going to taste like maple!" and I knew that these little bites of banana and curry were going to be more than something quirky to write about. No, these were actually going to be really delicious.

When I took them to work, my coworkers took one and immediately said that the buttercream was really good. They tasted the richness of the butter and the little bit of cream cheese that was in there but when I asked them to identify any other flavor, they couldn't. And who doesnt immediately recognize curry?!

One taster said that they were afraid of trying it, but that the curry was so subtle and mellow that it was a perfect combination. That was probably the best comment I could have recieved on something so...scary. I mean, seriouly, the looks I got when I told people I was putting curry in a cupcake should have been enough to send me back to my kitchen with my head down. But it worked. Jerks. :)

In a totally, sonotgoingtohappen but ifitdidIwoulddie comment from my boss, after tasting them, and seeing how cute these little things were, she said that we should just put them in our case at work and call them Mariel's Minis. Again, Im pretty sure that will never come to be a reality, seeing as how we have to go through so much to put something on our shelves but the fact that she said that was really, really sweet and it made me believe in what I do here just a little bit more.

These pictures were taken in my new "studio"...which consists of a thumb tack, binder clip, desk lamp and scotch tape. Pretty ghetto, but I loved the way these pictures came out.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vegan Lemon-Coconut Cupcakes

The flavor of coconut blends into fragrant lemon. Vegan and delicious with a texture so soft that eggs and butter aren't missed at all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ham and Swiss and a Little Creativity

I find it incredibly difficult not to go out and spend my entire paycheck on food and ingredients. After daydreaming about buying cream, butter, special flours, decoratifs and chocolates, I realize that I probably have a bunch of stuff in my kitchen that I can use.

First...I need to take a look around. A lot of the things I make for dinner, parties, or OriginalCinn are from things I already have in my kitchen. For example, I wanted to make something savory for a cookie baking party I was having with my cousin and a dear friend. I didn't really have time or money to go to the store and buy something to make so I just took a look around my kitchen.

In the freezer, I had puff pastry. "OK..OK.." the wheels began turning, "What can I make with this puff pastry?" I looked in the fridge and found some prosciutto and some emmentaler swiss cheese I got on sale. Everything I need for some ham and swiss turnovers are already in my kitchen!

And there I went, making these savory turnovers in no time at all. And while they were baking, I made some honey mustard pecan dressing for dipping. A little dijon, a little honey and a bunch of other pantry staples made the sauce perfectly sweet and mustardy to go with my ham and cheese!

I had just enough ingredients to fill the turnovers. So this recipe is based on just that. You can add or subtract or completely change anything on the indredients list to fit what you have in your fridge. I spent $0 on this meal. I had everything I needed in my kitchen and I didn't even know it until I started looking.

Prosciutto and Emmentaler Swiss Turnovers- Makes 8

1 pkg. Puff Pastry-Trader Joe's Brand
4 oz. Prosciutto di Parma
6 oz. Emmentaler Swss Cheese, Shredded
1 ea. Egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water
Preheat oven to 400°

1. Cut thawed, but cold puff pastry into eight squares and place them onto 2 baking sheets.
2. Brush the beaten egg wash over the top and right side of the square.
3. Place prosciutto and cheese in the center of the square and spread the mixture on the diagonal.
4. Bring up the corner of the square and seal the edges with a fork.
5. Brush the tops of the turnovers with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
6. Cut a vent in the top about in inch long- I use a pair of kitchen scissors.
7. Bake 14-17 minutes or until the pastry has puffed and is a dark golden brown.

Honey Mustard Sauce

1/3 cup Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
¼ tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp. Ground Mustard
1 tsp. Salt
Fresh cracked pepper

1. Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste.
2. Toss over baby spinach or salad greens or serve along side turnovers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Random Thoughts on Cupcakes

I like cupcakes. Who doesn't? And if there is anything I want to accomplish through this blog it's to blow your mind with flavor combinations that you just wouldn't normally think about. You all seem to like it too...since the Cherry and Plum Crostini with Olive Oil Ice Cream was posted, it has remained the top viewed on OriginalCinn each week. So let's see what else I can throw at you!

I have always loved using spices in my cupcakes. Gentle and subtle, warm and spicy, sweet and savory flavors are what make a cupcake stand out from all the other regular flavors. Please don't misunderstand. I love a good yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting as much as anyone else! And honestly, Give me a batch of 'Funfetti' any day and I am a happy girl. But when I want something different, something that I can't even find a recipe for online I know it will be something spectacular.

My idea for Banana Curry Cupcakes came from cleaning out my spice cupboard. I tossed out last year's cardamom and ground ginger and I came across my small tin of Madras Curry Powder. I opened it up and the aroma, combined with all the other spices I generally bake with gave me a beautiful idea...Curry Buttercream. It lends itself well to the creaminess of, "Mariel's Best Buttercream" and it already has a sweetness to it, so Im going to try it! Along with a banana cupcake.

This is the first post I have done before I make something, so Im already kind of setting myself up for a little embarassment if it doesn't turn out, well, spectacular. But hey, we all make something every once in a while that we really wish we hadn't, right? For the sake of innovation, creativity and um,getting some more use out of that curry powder, let's do this!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mandarin Tapioca with Vanilla Yogurt Mousse and Candied Almonds

I am sitting down at my computer, catching up on my favorite blogs and drinking a cup of coffee. The apartment is quiet and I very much like the feeling of solitude at the moment. Not in a hermit crab, “I don’t want to have anything to do with the world” kind of way, but more of a, “Finally, some time for myself” kind of way. Things in my life have changed recently. I am no longer working in a fast paced restaurant with 20 other men in the kitchen and what seem like children wanting attention in my pastry kitchen. No more work-horse days, with lunch (if I got any that day) made of the walk-ins almost expired food eaten out of a sad, little mixing bowl in the corner of the kitchen whilst sitting on a milk crate. There are no longer feelings of, “am I going to get verbally assaulted today?" And the best feeling of all, is knowing that I will never have to threaten to punch someone in the f*&%ing face if they ever touch me like that again.

Things had to change. The industry never will so now...I am a cake decorator! Happily decorating at Whole Foods Market among friends, learning an entirely new skill and I love it. Of course I can never shake the need to constantly create that was encouraged daily by my chefs and all that means is that OriginalCinn will be the exclusive creative outlet for me. Which is kind of the same as when I was working in a restaurant.

Honestly, it took me a bit of time; a bit of time to enjoy the silence and solitude I had found when there were no more restaurants in the south bay worth working for (or even had a pastry department). But writing for Metro helped me through. I learned how to take my thoughts and opinion on food and give them an actual voice on paper. I loved using the other side of my creativity, and I very much enjoyed wearing something other than slip-resistant shoes everyday. I am forever grateful to my editor who gave me something wonderful to do during the most difficult time when I had to be ok with myself and start all over again.

The meticulous nature of a pastry chef is something I will never let go of and for that I am grateful. The restaurant industry taught me how to work hard…and harder and harder. I will no doubt take everything I learned standing over 25 tickets all in for desserts, each with a perfect quenelle of ice cream or sorbet and bring that to my new department.

I have had time now to see friends and family that I had previously had to give up on because I was ALWAYS at work. I made a new life for myself and it feels lovely. Of course I’m not saying that restaurants will always and forever be out of the question. Because, well, you can take the girl out of the kitchen but you cant take the 12-14 hour workdays out of the girl. But it is time to try something new…to learn something new and get really good at. Wish me luck, all.

For your incredible patience with me and because well, if I didn’t have any recipes no one would be here, I have for you the fruit of my free time…a dessert so simple made with one of my favorite flavor combinations-Mandarin Tapioca with Vanilla Yogurt Mousse. You should buy enough mandarins to juice and a few to slice or segment and marinate in almond simple syrup.

Mandarin Tapioca

5 cups Water
3/4 cup Sugar, separated
Pinch Salt
¼ cup Small Tapioca Pearls
3 cups Mandarin Juice, separated (or fresh Orange Juice)

1. Bring water to a boil, add ¼ cup of sugar.
2. Whisk in tapioca pearls and return to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to a high simmer and cook for 15-18 minutes or until the pearls are al dente and translucent. Add more water and return to a simmer if it appears to be too thick.
4. Drain and add pearls back to the pot with 2 cups of mandarin juice and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Transfer to a container to cool, then chill overnight or for at least 6 hours. Once it is chilled, add the last cup of juice.

Vanilla Yogurt Mousse
5.3 oz ‘Fage’ Fat Free Greek Yogurt, It’s the smallest container.
8oz Cool Whip Fat Free Dessert Topping
2 tbsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ ea. Vanilla Bean, if you have it…because it looks pretty

1. Add the sugar and the vanilla bean to the container of yogurt and mix until dissolved.
2. In a medium bow, mix ¼ of the whipped topping with the vanilla extract and the yogurt. This is the time you can mix everything together with a little bit of force to lighten up the yogurt.
3. Gently mix, or fold in the next half of the whipped topping, making sure you keep the majority of the air in the mixture.
4. Test the flavors. If you want it lighter and sweeter mix in the last bit of topping or if you like the tang of the yogurt, leave it out. It’s up to you.

Candied Almonds
1 cup Sliced Almonds
2 Tbsp. Sugar with 2 Tbsp. Water
Pinch Salt

1. Mix all ingredients together and bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until the sugar has caramelized and the almonds are toasted.

In 6-8 small dessert cups, or in this case my trusty Libbey Just Desserts Parfait glasses, fill half way with tapioca, a few segments of mandarin and spoon in or pipe to the top with mousse and garnish with toasted almonds. To serve on a plate, add sliced mandarins and a few almonds to the side.

This is a perfect small dessert. Of course you can serve a lot of it in bigger glasses but these were the right size just for a taste. Towards the bottom of the glass when all of the mousse and tapioca were mixed together, the last bit becomes the perfect shooter.