Wednesday, June 24, 2009
There is a delicate art to using tea in food, and after many experiments, I have finally found a tea line with unexpected flavors that have made some amazing cookies. The brand is called Tay Teas, and they are all handmade in upstate New York, in a small town called Andes. It was first introduced to me by my friend Carolyn, former owner of Jan & Aya, who carried the line in her shop. The teas are packaged in simple stamped tins, and are no match for the explosion of flavor and harmony each blend contains.
Duchess First Love tea
When using tea in baking, the oils and aromas from the tea is brought out by heat, and sometimes proves disastrous in taste. But making my Crisp, Crumbly Tea Cookies with 2 tablespoons of ground Duchess First Love tea, made a cookie that someone said "tastes like clouds". One of the more memorable compliments ever.
The trick to using tea in baking, is to make sure it is not too coarse or bulky. Sometimes I will rip open tea bags, but in general prefer loose tea as I can grind it to be more fine, or keep it chunkier.
While visiting the Tay Tea shop last weekend, I had the chance to sample some other teas that struck me as ones to experiment with. Persian Rose, for example could make an amazing tea infusion for a Madeline or crisper textured cookie.
Another soft spot towards the Tay Tea shop, is that it is located 20 minutes from where I got married in the country. That may be the reason the baking gods are looking down on me from their fluffy white clouds, to help me bake some magic.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
For a very chic mom-to-be: Goldies (organic Twinkies with a twist) and Silver Ring-a-Dings (my version of Hostess Cupcakes). On the cupcakes, I piped hearts and dusted them with silver glitter.
The food at her baby shower was comfort food, so organic versions of junk food were the perfect compliment.
Sounds like the baby is off to a very good start...
Saturday, June 6, 2009
I decided to spice up the look of a batch of cupcakes for a recent order.
Instead of having them be uniform, what if together the decorations had a scattered loose feeling, like a field of flowers? In this case, lilac flowers with gold glittery centers on shimmering gold dusted frosting.
Once placed a cake plate, these will look beautiful as nature is never perfect...
Thursday, June 4, 2009
This past weekend has been a whirl of cakes, including celebration cakes.
I was given full creative freedom to come up with whatever I wanted, and had really specific ideas for how I wanted the cakes to be.
Wes's cake- my good friend's husband had his 40th birthday. He is a craftsman/metalsmith/carpenter/designer and makes beautiful objects. I felt inspired by his use of metals and clean, minimal materials. His cake felt to me like it should be looking like metal stacked, sort of Frank Gehry-esque.
As for the flavor, his wife gave me their favorite chocolate bar--organic dark chocolate with ancho chilies, with dried cherries scattered throughout. I baked a dark chocolate cake with ancho chili, a layer of sour cherry compote, then a espresso and vanilla whipped buttercream. All covered in a dark chocolate glaze and dusted.
Helemai is a friend from jewelry design who is from Estonia and hates anything too sweet. For her I baked the carrot cake from my book with the lemon zest cream cheese frosting. Her favorite colors are yellow and orange, and I felt like crazy, messy flowers sort of like a vintage fabric, would be perfect.
Clyde's kindergarten teacher had a surprise baby shower in class, unfortunately Clyde was home sick with the flu, so we only got the shots of the cake before she did. A vanilla whipped buttercream in a pale blue, with white flowers, silver glitter dusted stamen.
Life is sweet...we all need to celebrate with cake!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Organic and Chic: Cookie Creations from Sarah Magid
To celebrate today's release of her cookbook Organic and Chic (Morrow), dessert afficionado Sarah Magid shares fun tricks and tips for entertaining kids using this simple and delicious cookie-dough recipe.
Clyde's Sugar-Cookie Dough
3 sticks organic unsalted butter, softened
2 cups organic cane sugar
2 organic eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups organic all-purpose flour, sifted
1. In standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often.
2. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla and salt. Slowly add the flour, beating until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Dough is now ready to be used according to each recipe (see below).
1. Cookie beads: an homage to the candy necklace
You will need one batch of cookie dough; food coloring; something sharp to make holes, such as a skewer or toothpick; milk for brushing; and ribbon or yarn.
Tear off handfuls of dough and tint each one a different color. Separate each chunk of colored dough into smaller pieces, and roll them into 1/2-inch to 1-inch balls. Let them chill for 20 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Heat the oven to 350° F while the dough chills. Once the balls are chilled, use a skewer to pierce a hole all the way through, making sure the holes are large enough for a string to fit through. Use a pastry brush to brush milk onto the beads. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, being careful not to allow them to brown. While they cool, wrap a piece of tape around the end of a the yarn or ribbon, and use this as the needle to string the beads. Tie the ends into a large bow to make a bracelet or necklace.
2. Psychedelic cookie puzzle: for little free spirits
You will need one batch of the cookie dough, food coloring, and a parent who knows how to use a knife.
Tear off handfuls of dough and tint each one a different color. Then mix them together, swirling together the pieces of colored dough until the whole thing resembles a tie-dye T-shirt. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick. Heat the oven to 350° and let the dough chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Then place a small square or circlular plate on top of the dough, and using a sharp knife, cut out around the plate. Repeat until there's no more dough. These will make each child's individual puzzle base. Using the knife, carve lines into the dough to make puzzle "pieces," cutting all the way through to the cookie sheet, but keeping the entire shape together. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, then let them cool.
3. Cookie pop faces: a fun birthday-party activity
You will need one batch of cookie dough; lollipop or Popsicle sticks; candy glue (recipe below); and about 1 cup each of dried coconut, raisins, fruit roll-ups, chocolate chips, and pretzels.
For the candy glue:
1 cup organic powdered sugar
2 tablespoons organic heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Sift the sugar into a small bowl.
2. Add the vanilla and cream, and whisk everything together until it has a gluelike consistency.
Roll out the dough until it's 1/2-inch thick. Heat the oven to 350° F, and let the dough chill in the refrigerator. Using a circle cookie-cutter or a drinking glass, cut out circles and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place them about 1/2" to an 1" inside each circle to make the cookie pop. If dough breaks as you do this, use your hands to smooth it out. Bake until the cookies are light brown, about 11 minutes. Once cool, allow the children to use the candy glue to attach dried coconut (hair), raisins or chocolate chips (eyes), cashew nuts cut in half (for a nose, or if no nuts are allowed, you can use a piece of a pretzel stick), and thin slices of fruit roll-up for a mouth.
4. Friendship cookies: These are especially sweet for a play date.
You will need one batch of the cookie dough, food coloring, milk, and an adult who can use a knife.
Tint the dough with pink food coloring, roll to 1/2-inch thick, and let it chill in refrigerator while the oven preheats to 350° F. Using a large heart-shape or circular cutter, cut the dough out, then move the cookies to a new piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Use a knife to cut a zig zag line down the center. Then, use a toothpick to prick the words best friends across each cookie. In a small bowl, mix together about 1/2 cup milk and some food coloring. Using a pastry brush, paint the cookies with the tinted milk to give them a glossy finish. Bake them until they're lightly browned, about 11 minutes.
5. Sugar-cookie pretzels: a perfectly crunchy sweet cookie
You will need one batch of the cookie dough, food coloring, and colored sugar crystals.
Using a tablespoon, divide the dough into pieces. Make each chunk of dough into a long, snakelike piece, about 4 inches long. Take the ends and loop them over each other to resemble a pretzel. Lie the pretzels on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and chill them for 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 350° F. Using a pastry brush or paintbrush, cover the pretzels with milk, then sprinkle sugar on top. Bake them for 13 minutes, until they're lightly browned.