Saturday, December 29, 2012

52 Books and 52 Recipes

I have 52 cookbooks.
Most of them are baking and dessert related. But as I have told you before, I love them, all kinds...

So this year, as a little project, I'd like to make one recipe out of each book I have, each week for a year. Yes, Ive seen the movie and I'm very aware of the similarities. But, these are MY books. I selected each one (well some were given as gifts) for very specific reasons. The most recent one was 'Laudree Sucree' and it showed up in a little box, which truth be told is kind of a bitch to get the book out of, but I selected it for the celebrity, for the beautiful color green it is and for the really incredible recipes in it.
I thought, "Well, I have so many of these books, and I want to cook from each of them!". But I couldn't decide which one first, so I asked my fiancee who told me she'd gladly pick the dishes she wanted me to make from each book. Tough job, isn't it?
She picked 'Power Foods' first. Its from the editors of Whole Living Magazine which I picked because I was judging it by its cover. Its a picure of ripe, delicious tomatoes on toasted whole grain bread with tofu spread sprinked with basil, chives and cilantro and coarse salt. Oh deliciocity! I read through it and it had really great "recipes" which are more like vegetable pairing suggestions because all of the ingredients seem to be just oilve oil, salt and pepper and herbs. And berries. So here I go, cooking, baking and writing.
The first recipe is, drumroll...ok

What is your favorite cookbook?

Papaya Berry Yogurt Parfaits
Ingredients: 1 piece of fresh ginger, 5 tablespoons of honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 large papaya, 1 cup fresh blackberries, 1 cup fresh raspberries, 2 cups plain yogurt, 1/4 cup finely chopped mint plus sprigs for garnish, 1/2 cup granola, either homemade or store bought.

1. Grate ginger into a bowl with the, lemon juice, mint and 2 1/2 tablespoons honey. Add papaya and berries, toss gently to coat.
2. Stir the remaining honey and zest into the yogurt.
3. Spoon half the fruit into 6 glasses, then half of the yogurt, then half of the granola. Repeat and top with granola and mint sprigs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Salted Butter Brownies. Hella.

San Jose, CA

I had forgotten how much I love my city. I feel like because I have been here all my life that it had shown me everything that I needed to see. Bill’s in Willow Glen for brunch, perpetual traffic on Tully Road, Silicon Valley wives at the gym on Tuesday afternoons and the constant shadow of San Francisco looming over us like the ultra-cool teenage sister to San Jose’s geeky fourth grader. But over the last few years it seems as though the internet burnouts have turned SJ into somewhat of an indie melting pot. Smaller businesses have popped up with a really eclectic community built from it.

My deepest apologies, San Jose-I had completely disregarded you. Like salted butter in the pastry kitchen, you too are often overlooked as a real force. Today I will laud salted butter, exalt salted butter, because there are certain applications in baking where using it will highlight flavors. Cocoa in your brownies and brown sugar in your chocolate chip cookies will taste so much better if you eliminate the salt in your recipe and use salted butter.
A chocolate cake for example will definitely need unsalted though because cakes are lighter and too much saltiness will over power the flavor and texture. Using it in a pineapple upside down cake however will make your sweet, sweet pineapple taste gorgeous with that slight savory flavor of the salted butter. Anything that is very sweet, or with a high ratio of sugar will fit the profile to use this forgotten fat. Then you get to call it something cool and exclusive because you are in the know, like:

Salted Butter Brownies -Makes: Hella
(Adapted from Good Housekeeping-Baking)

1 ½ sticks Salted Butter

8 oz Dark Chocolate (65%-72%)

2 cups Sugar

1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

5 ea. Large Eggs, beaten

1 ¼ cups All Purpose Flour

Preheat oven to 350°
1. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan or spray with cooking spray.
2. In a 4qt saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar then the eggs. Mix until well blended.
4. Stir in flour just until combined and there are no lumps.
5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge of the pan comes out clean.
6. Cool completely and cut into 24 pieces.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Clementines in Spiced Syrup-Thanksgiving Desserts

I've been thinking about this flavor combination for a few weeks.
I was asked to do a Thanksgiving dessert table and wanted to offer something a little different than the usual pumpkin pie or sweet potato thing with marshmallows-which I'm now being told is a side dish...weird.
So the other day, meandering through the aisles at the grocery store, I saw those little cups of mandarins in syrup and thought that a lovely, light little dessert in a cup would be a nice change in the regular line-up of dessert-A little bit of citrus, a little bit of spice and a little bit of cream with some pomegranate jewels thrown in there for color and browned butter crumble for texture.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To Bake IS to Breathe-Teaching Macaron Classes with Love

I would love to teach you how to make beautiful French macarons in your home. This class is a privately held class for up to 4 people in your home or just for yourself if you prefer. This way you can know how to create these delightful cookies in your own oven.

 Maggie and her husband Alex were my first clients and they were so super cute making their batch of macarons together. They came up with a great flavor combination-maple macarons with salted caramel buttercream. She had made the caramel after attending my first OriginalCinn Class and it was perfect!

This class is $120 for 3 hours of instruction in your home, ingredients to make 2 batches of macarons, one demonstration and one guided batch, a variety of colors, flavorings and the confidence to make them even after I leave. Make it a party! Invite 2 others to learn with you. Send me an email at
mariel@originalcinndesserts(dot)com to set up a private lesson in your home or for a large group in a kitchen classroom-totally perfect for bachelorette parties! Anywhere in the South Bay Area, and San Francisco!

Maggie and Alex's Macaron Class

                                                                OriginalCinn Favorites Class
                                                       Oct. 1, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dia de los Muertos Cupcakes

It is full on Fall already. Of course in lovely California, it is a perfect mixture of cool, crisp, apple cider sippin' weather and day in the park, super warm weather. Fall is my favorite time of year. It is my favorite time to buy new clothes, leaves are changing colors, pumpkins, figs, grapes and apples are here and of course, Halloween.
Not too long ago, I saw the first house on the block completely decorated for Halloween, complete with zombies popping out of the front lawn. Since watching the first episode of The Walking Dead the other day and being super creeped out by zombies already, I thought to change my focus from scary dead things this year to honoring the dead.
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico to honor loved ones who have passed. They decorate sugar skulls and leave them along with flowers and possessions of the deceased at altars to celebrate their life. I think it is a beautiful holiday that I have celebrated for many years and this year, well I made some cupcakes.
Skulls, roses and hearts all formed by hand with fondant are used as decoration for these cupcakes. They are all different. I sat for almost an entire Sunday making these cupcakes and I did so with love.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

OriginalCinn Favorites Class- Oct. 1, 2012

I remember one show, a long time ago, before the food network gave birth to another cooking channel, there was a show...a show that gave me science, gave me technique. I was taught even before I went to culinary school how to fill a pastry bag properly because it was an important step in pastry, therefore an important topic to discuss on said cooking show.
My very first chef told me, "How you fill a pastry bag shows your character." An over-filled, messy bag is never going to get you a nice rosette; its rude and difficult. A clean pastry bag is calm and managable and durable. Filling a pastry bag is a technique as is piping a pretty rosette and if you are looking at the television set wondering, "How the F do I make my cream puffs perfect little balls of piped love?"
ditch the TV and come take my class.

This is the OriginalCinn Favorites Class.
Brown Butter Blondies with Bacon-y Chocolate Sauce and Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Caramel Sauce. 5 Techniques, 2 and a half hours with Me, your chef-instructor, Mariel Balderas. Plus, I serve wine so you'd better believe this is gonna be fun and not lame.
To reserve a space, send me an email at I will send you a PayPal confirmation and your space is set! Or you can sign up right now, securely. There are 10 spots open for the class.

OriginalCinn Favorites Class-$65 THIS CLASS IS FULL. Please send me an email if you would be interested in this class if it was on another day. Thanks for the love. Or go to the Class Schedule Page to see when the next class will be held. UPDATE: The next class is Nov 17th, 2012 at 7pm at Whole Foods-Cupertino



Friday, July 20, 2012

Lavender Lemon Bars

Let me tell you a little story.
A story about one fateful day when I bought a three dollar "homemade" lemon bar and immediately regretted it as soon as I took the first bite...
Sugar. Oh, the sugar. Cloyingly sweet, artificial, and eggy filling over an underbaked crust held together by cold fat and flour. Oh, man it was bad and three dollars too...what a chump. I could have spent that three dollars a number of places and I will never get it back because I traded it for a tummy ache.

I always say if I want a good dessert, I have to make it myself. I was in a mood for a lemon bar and I thought I could get by without actually having to make one. But like that coconut cream pie that I had to make myself because the one at the diner I got it from tasted like tanning oil, or the bread pudding that tasted like a wet sponge, or like any cupcake I eat anywhere, ever, it fell so short of my expectations that I am forced to make it myself.

But that's ok because these are so, so, soososo, good. Light and floral and tart!

My classic Shortbread crust with lavender and the lemon bar filling adapted from the Tartine cookbook.

Lavender Shortbread Lemon Bars
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tablespoon dried lavender

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp lemon juice
lemon zest, grated from 1 small lemon
6 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
salt pinch
Powdered sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 and line an 8x8 inch pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving two sides longer than the edge of the pan.
Finely chop the dried lavender with a knife or in a spice grinder and set aside.
Whisk the flour and powdered sugar until combined and add the chunks of cold butter. With a pastry blender, two forks or working quickly with your hands cut the butter into the flour until you make coarse crumbs. Midway through, when the butter is almost completely incorporated, add the lavender. Press the dough into the pan and bake until golden brown on top about 15-18 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling: Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and whisk until blended, Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to dissolve the sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and egg yolk with the salt. (This will allow you to completely beat the eggs and incorporate them easier into the lemon sugar mixture without beating in too much air in the process). Add the eggs to the lemon juice mixture and whisk until well mixed.

Pour the lemon mixture onto the hot crust and reduce the temperature to 300. Bake another 20-26 minutes or until the filling no longer jiggles.

Cool completely and chill well before cutting. Lift the bars out of the pan by pulling on the extra foil and cut into bars, squares or triangles and dust with powdered sugar.


Monday, July 2, 2012

My first cookbook came with a doll my mother bought me when I was about 6.
I had recipes for ants on a log (raisins on a peanut butter filled celery stick), "fun-dough", a mixture of flour water, salt and food coloring I used to make a model of a giraffe for my 3rd grade animal project that landed me a pretty sweet "A". None of these recipes required cooking but that was ok. I sat up on my stool with the recipes, ingredients, plastic measuring spoons that I think my mother still has and I loved it.
When I was about 19 I became obsessed with baking (I see not much has changed) and I bought myself a copy of Good Housekeeping's Baking at a second hand store for 3 dollars. I baked and baked and baked and I fell in love with reading book after book on baking. Now I have about 40 cookbooks and am currently writing my own.
My most recent purchase was Ripe by Cheryl Sternman Rule, a Silicon Valley blogger I have been following for years. Oh my, it is gorgeous and written just the way I eat: simple, seasonal and colorful. The first recipe I made was the Rhubarb Cherry Mini Crisp but I changed it a bit...I added strawberries to the rhubarb cherry mixture and almond meal to the streusel topping and I piled everything in a large dish to serve family-style to my parents and fiance.
The book is separated by color and a single recipe per fresh, ripe ingredient is accompanied by a lovely picture of the finished product. Since the farmer's market is my absolute favorite place to be in the summertime I will be making quite a few of these dishes. Next up, Peach Mascarpone Flatbreads with fresh onions, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I was involved in a conversation recently inspired by an article I read by L.V Anderson on how cookbooks are out of style and will become obsolete.
False. Curse whoever thinks that the printed word will be replaced by digital formats! People have died for books, protested for and against books. Civilizations have been built on words written in books. I learned how to make fun-dough...from a book! Our lives, with each book we read shapes who we are and technology will enhance it but certainly not replace it. This book is unlike any of the books currently on my shelf and I will be cooking from it for a very long time.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hello Kitty Cupcakes

Remember when you were a kid and you would whine and moan that you were so bored and you had nothing to do and everything is boring? Well that was the worst thing to say to my Mom because she would just say, “Ok, you’re bored?” then without blinking she would shoot off about a million things for me to do.

“Well you can clean your room, wash the dishes, fold the laundry or read a book”. Mostly I ended up reading a book, which thankfully has explained my love of reading and my desire to join with a group of women and start a babysitting gig…

I’m just kidding. Mostly, it just made me learn how to keep myself busy at all times as an adult…quite neurotically so.

Cut to: Last Wednesday night after these Hello Kitty cupcakes had been, decorated, boxed up, and picked up and T and I found ourselves with absolutely nothing to do. I’m not gonna lie, I really enjoyed it. But then a strange feeling of boredom had come over us because for about a year straight, every minute of my waking life has been taken up and the feeling was foreign. Nothing to do. “I think I might be bored” we said to each other. “Yeah, I’m bored.”

And it was as if God, himself said, “Well let’s do something about that,” and I got a phone call for another cupcake order. Immediately, we had about 8 things to do (including taking the order for some very particular Dallas Cowboys cupcakes) and we vowed never to say, “I’m bored” again. Well, I can say it right now because I’m currently writing, eating breakfast, calculating this recipe and commenting on Facebook so I am certainly not bored!

These cupcakes were so much fun to make. Hello Kitty is an icon, so you have to make sure that if you are making Kitty faces by hand, that they are the closest possible to the image of Miss Kitty. There are cookie cutters for her face but I couldn’t find one anywhere other than the internet so here we go, freehand!

My favorite thing about these cupcakes is the frosting. Mariel’s Best Buttercream flavored with strawberry jam. But did I buy the jam? No, that would be boring. I took a pint of strawberries, a quarter cup of sugar, blended, strained and cooked it down until the kitchen smelled sweet with strawberry.

This recipe makes enough gel to flavor your favorite frosting recipe…even the canned one if you so choose. It is basically taking fresh fruit and cooking it down to activate the natural pectin and concentrate the flavor. It is delicious as a sauce for a sundae or tossed with fresh cut strawberries to use as a natural glaze.

Strawberry Gel Makes ¾ cup

1 Pint Strawberries, sliced

¼ cup Sugar
1. Let the strawberries marinate in the sugar to release the natural juices.

2. Puree the strawberries until smooth.

3. Strain the puree in a fine mesh strainer.

4. In a sauté pan over medium high heat, bring the puree to a boil, stirring occasionally.

5. Once the mixture becomes foamy, it will begin to gel. Continue to stir quickly to prevent scorching.

6. Reduce the mixture by half and the color will be a deep red and the scent will gloriously fill your kitchen.

7. Chill the gel completely.

Depending on your frosting, you may have some left over. For 2 ½ cups of Buttercream, I used the full ¾ cups of strawberry gel.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Colleged Ruled Musings

I am a copious note taker.

This comes from working in restaurants. If you didn’t want to get your head chewed off for forgetting something, you wrote it down. I also wrote down other things like simple kitchen math (1oz=28.35grams), slightly more difficult kitchen math and the formula and method for carrot cake. I drew pictures of plated desserts, pictures of how my low-boys need to be organized and pictures of my chefs on fire and so on.

This is when I fell in love with a perfectly sized, spiral bound, 9.5”X6”, college ruled notebook that Mead no longer makes. I have four of these. They tell my story, all the things I learned and everywhere I have been; every dessert I have made or ever wanted to make have been recorded and is in these books. I have a notebook that has all the notes I took while working for Metro, all the planning that went into my first OriginalCinn event, cakes I’ve designed, food I’ve eaten, my entire life in food since I began studying it is documented and smudged with chocolate and I carry one with me at all times.

Today at 9:38am, I wrote that I wanted to make honey ice cream.
To go with that honey ice cream, I thought of a few things I could make:
Seasonally, I could make a kumquat tea cake with rosemary sugar and a citrus salad…
Or because I know of a particular brand of local chocolate that would taste really good with citrus, a chocolate lava cake with vanilla scented mandarins and blood orange with a drizzle of olive oil….
OR fried cream puffs filled with ricotta and mascarpone, flavored with vanilla bean and lemon zest…ooh and served with spiced wine and blueberry sauce.

I think in dessert, then I write it down.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Project: Wedding Cakes

I'm trying to build up my wedding cake portfolio. It is slightly difficult when you really don't have anything to show a client but you're telling them for sure you can make a cake for them.
Please understand my hesitation. I have heard so many horror stories about wedding cakes and the people who say, "Oh yeah, don't worry, I will make you the most beautiful cake!" Then come wedding day, it flops over, it melts, it is lop-sided or just plain ugly. I absolutely do not want to make one of those cakes.
Those who know me, know my career has been based in restaurants and menu/recipe development. As I am looking at OriginalCinn, the business, it is important for me to develop my range of skills and one of those skills is wedding cakes. Any small cake, I can make, no problem but creating what is essentially a centerpiece of a wedding, is a lot of pressure. It has to be properly supported, the cake and the filling have to work together to be a part of that support and in the end it has to be absolutely beautiful. I have designed a wedding cake, orangey-pink with little birds, branches and some leaves. But, uh, if I really want to practice making this cake, well I need to bake, frost and decorate actual cake.
This cake was made at work. All three layers are expired cake from three different days (don't worry, no one ate it) and I wanted to practice stacking, and decorating something simple. I paid $.75 for the whole thing, so it wasn't too much of an issue for me to throw it away after it had sat out all night because I wanted to see how long it would stand.
So before I set out to make this cake that I have dreamed up in my head, I want to ask, what is your favorite cake flavor? Or what flavor of cake did you have at your wedding? Did you have a cake at your wedding? Is there a story to go with it?
Leave a comment and send me your story...I'd love to hear it!

Monday, March 5, 2012

S'mores Tart

 I never went camping.
I mean actual, in the wilderness camping. As a Campfire Girl, the closest I ever got to a real campfire was a small tabletop barbeque set up in the backyard next to a tent. A sad, sad simulation of real camping. I did, for a few summers go to a motor home camp site where we did set up tents and sleep out of doors in the "woods" but then we woke up, to immediately jump into the heated pool.
Yeah, my childhood did lack the genuine camping experience but it did not lack The S'more.
Gooey, melty, chocolate crunchy goodness that got all over my face and my fingers. Best when the mallow lit on fire and it was completely charred before it went sandwiched in between grahams and a square of chocolate. It was my first experience with caramelized sugar and it was the greatest thing ever invented.
Hey, remember that scene...of course you the Sandlot, how hil-ar-ious it was when Smalls didn't know what a S'more was? I was about 10 and already the thought that he had never, ever experienced the pure joy that is the S'more blew my mind. Ha! Good stuff.

This tart, like most everything else on this blog came from really craving the flavors of a Smor'e. So lets break this down:
     The Graham-Honey, cinnamon, and a deep toasted flavor of graham flour. 
     The 'Mallow-Sugar, pillowy fluff and that charred caramelized 'mallow flavor.
     The Chocolate-Really, all there needs to be is any kind of chocolate.
These are the fundamentals of the S'more, right? Yes but if you want a deep flavor, layered and saturated with the essence of the iconic childhood dessert, listen to what I did....

The graham cracker crust was flavored with cinnamon, vanilla bean and a touch of salt. The soft ganache, to mimic the melty-oozy chocolate was made with cream, honey and a mixture of 41% chocolate and 65% chocolate. The marshmallows, I purchased at Whole Foods but are a natural vanilla bean marshmallow that I torched to caramelize it's soft exterior.
What I ended up with was a really rich, flavorful dessert that could only be brought up right and posh, served with a port wine.