Tag Archives: baking

Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies--Recipe: Joy the Baker

Adventures in Baking: Holiday Treats

6th January 2016

Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies--Recipe: Joy the Baker
Baking makes me happy. Even when my treats are slightly overcooked, when I’m in the kitchen baking I feel oddly calm and relaxed. I made a lot of goodies for the dessert table at my wedding and for the most part, I was in the zone and totally unhurried. Chill. Then it all went to hell when it was more than just me in the kitchen and I started to get stressed the heck out. Still, baking. Ahh. Yes.

There’s not a lot of things that I can do for people for the holidays. I only have so much money and I’m not as crafty as I’d like to think I am. Instead, I bake.

Last year (in 2014, really), I made some special holiday treats for my Early Childhood team at work and left a tray of extras out for the rest of my coworkers. It seemed to be a hit, so I planned a similar thing for this past December. The first time around, I made Milk Chocolate Chip Gingersnap cookies, Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip cookies, Cranberry Bliss cookies, and Brown Butter Blondies.

This year I switched things up a little bit. I realized during my pre-wedding baking session that making Cranberry Bliss bars were a slightly easier alternative to the cookies, because it just took one huge baking sheet. I used three of Joy the Baker’s recipes, because she is awesome: Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies, Butter Walnut cookies, and Classic Lemon Bars. Joy’s recipes are always so easy to follow and they yield amazing results. The lemon bar recipe is a favorite in my house, but the cookie recipes were new. The brown butter toasted coconut cookies were slightly over baked, but packed with so much flavor. Brown butter, man. It makes all the difference. The bits of coconut were yummy, but not too overpowering. The butter walnut cookies were to die for. I want to make those again and again and again. Super easy to make and they look really lovely.

Butter Walnut Cookies--Recipe: Joy the Baker

As an additional treat, I made chocolate covered pretzels. Such an easy process: melt chocolate, dip pretzels, and roll them in toppings. I had peanut butter cups (which I froze after chopping), kit kat bars, M&M’s, and drizzled chocolate. They make for such a pretty treat and seem like they are much more work than they actually are. Score one for me. Add some pretty packaging and you’re set!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I bought some greenery, used some fun Chinese food cartons (similar to these), brown paper packaging, mason jars, and a few filler flowers to present the sweets.
Adventures in Baking: Holiday Treats

Adventures in Baking: Holiday Treats

Adventures in Baking: Holiday Treats

What are your go to treats for gifts? Any recipes you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Adventures in Cooking: Coffee Macarons

6th November 2014

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

We’ve finally hit the middle of the work week! Hurrah! I’m surrounded by papers (half finished progress reports, assessments, attendance records) and prepping for another round of parent-teacher conferences. We finished nine back-to-back sessions today and tomorrow evening we’ll have some more. It’s always nice getting to talk to parents and sharing stories with them, but it’s exhausting. Sometimes there’s so much to say and other times it’s a struggle to find the conversation. But they’re important meetings and a great opportunity to establish the parent-teacher team.

I’m worn down from work and all of these changes in the weather, so I’ve reacquainted myself with my old pal NyQuil and I’m thrilled to be making this an early night. But first, a distraction.

Macarons.

I’ve only made French Macarons a handful of times, but it still sort of frustrates me that I don’t have my perfect formula down. I want perfection, even if I know that it’s difficult to achieve with these tricky cookies. My favorite resource for making macarons was linked by Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky. In the post, she wrote about using a video from Beth Le Manach who regularly posts amazing cooking videos on her YouTube channel.

This video gives you the step-by-step process for macaron perfection:

If you watch, though, Beth explains that there are a lot of ways to mess up. I’m sure I’ve done all of them. Sometimes the cookies have turned out too crispy or crinkly, but at least the fillings have mostly been delicious. Last Saturday I used Natalya’s Coffee Macaron recipe and paired it with my go-to macaron base recipe (Beth’s) and the results were pretty tasty. They weren’t as chewy as I wanted them to be, but the coffee-chocolate ganache filling was so good and super simple to make! I used some Cafe Bustelo for the coffee flavor and it was bold and slightly bitter, but balanced well with the chocolate. I think my main macaron dilemmas are as follows:

1. Should I use the convection setting on my oven?
2. If so, how should I adjust my cooking time and temp?
3. Remembering to leave the damn cookies out for a full hour before popping them into the oven.
4. Piping smaller, higher cookies, rather than ones that are too wide and thin.

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Do you like baking macarons? Do you have a go-to resource to share? Any suggestions for my next macaron batch? Let me know in the comments!

Recipes and Resources:
Beth Le Manach: Beth’s Foolproof French Macaron Recipe
Blogger: Delightfully Tacky-French Macarons (great supplement to the link above)
Coffee Macaron Recipe: MomsDish.com
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Life right now.

28th July 2014

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July is almost over which, in my head, means that summer is almost over. I’ve always had not-so-great feelings about August, because August signaled the start of the school year. August is like the Sunday of months. Basically, it’s the worst. The dread of the start of something new. Now that I’m a teacher, I have that same feeling, because my work is school.

This month I went back to college to get some credits towards my Early Childhood certification. New York City was approved for universal pre-k; our school was one of the few charters approved, too. So in September, I’ll be the lead teacher (finally) of a pre-k/kindergarten class. It’s exciting and really, really scary. I wish I had been able to do a lot more this summer, but it’s been nice so far. Class was pretty fun. I’ve always loved learning, so it was nice to get some more information and learn some new tricks to take with me into the coming school year.

A big thing that I’ve been doing this summer is cooking. Well, baking mostly. And taking pictures. A lot of both. I purchased an older DSLR from Megan (Freckled Italian) and have been learning to shoot with it. I have a PDF of the manual saved in a tab, but mostly I’ve been tinkering with it on my own. It’s been a little frustrating not being able to immediately snap the shots that I see in my mind, but with more and more practice I’ve really been getting the hang of it. It’s so exciting to finally have a “real” camera, though I still use my trusty iPhone, Eames, as much as possible. It’s dope.

(Photo by Steven)
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So the things that I’ve been photographing have been food items. Steven has been working on setting up a new blog, thanks to some inspiration from my bestie and her husband, so I’ve been shooting photos for him to use. Then I’ve been trying out new recipes for my Adventures in Cooking series. I probably have about ten different things that I’ve made and photographed over the past few months that I’ve just been holding onto, but a lot of things were holding me back. But if Steven can get his stuff together, then so can I. I can’t wait to share some of the new things that I’ve tried! It’s funny because I really like to cook and I do, in fact, make things other than dessert/baked goods. But I realized that whenever I cook, I use different amounts of everything. I have a standard idea of how I make my chicken parmesan, but I would never be able to share a specific recipe, since it’s always “a little of this and a little of that.” My goal is to start photographing some actual meals, but I’ll have to start with what I have.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far! Unless you live in Australia, in which case I hope you’ve been enjoying your winter. ♥

(P.S.-I have a new blog design! It’s from The Blog Boat on Etsy. The original design is super clean, but I’ve been adding some extra bits of color here and there. I’m not sure that it’s done yet, but I’m happy with it so far.)

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Adventures in cooking: Banana Bread

7th May 2014

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We’re always buying bananas around here. Usually the goal is to use them in a smoothie, but more often than not, I come home and I’m starving for actual food and the bananas don’t get eaten. I had the thought to bake some banana bread and switch up our batter-covered family recipe for something new. The lovely and amazing Joy from Joy the Baker posted a recipe for Brown Butter Banana Bread that looked simple and delicious. It made for a light and sweet loaf that felt just right.

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The thing I love about Joy’s posts is that every recipe tells a story. I really look forward to the way that she develops each one. They all seem familiar, accessible, and fun. It’s like cooking with a good friend. Who doesn’t love that? She’s also great with explaining new (to me) concepts. I had no idea that I could make buttermilk and I had never browned butter before! (Full disclosure, I totally did not brown the butter correctly the first time I tried. I did it in a pot, instead of a pan, and I didn’t leave it in for long enough. I have some proper brown-butter banana loaf baking as I type and it smells like perfection. So: Saucepan. Give the butter time to brown. Yes.)

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I used this recipe to bake banana bread with the children and they ate it all up! It was so much fun to cook with them and they all got a kick out of mashing the bananas and smelling all of the ingredients. They were not down with the buttermilk or the vanilla, but they certainly appreciated the taste in the loaf itself.

Recipe: Brown Butter Banana Bread
Blogger: Joy the Baker

Mash. Bake. Enjoy!

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All along the undertow is strengthening its hold…

24th April 2014

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Well, crap. It’s been a month! A busy one, despite spending more than a week on spring break, there was a lot going on. Birthdays to attend. Obligations to fulfill. Church. Family. Wedding stuff. Life. Always, life.

The good:
• Getting to sleep past 4:45 in the morning.
• Cuddling with my dog.
• Spending almost all week hanging out with Steven.
• Baking! There are so many Adventures in Cooking posts planned. Four!
• Some exercise.
• My bestie made it back from Brazil! She is alive and happy and full of God and inspiration. It’s a beautiful thing.
• A delicious lunch with my girlies at Bedford Post Inn.
• Wedding planning!

The bad:
• My grandma has cancer again. Ovarian cancer is highly unpredictable and aggressive. She’s gone through one round of chemo and she has another round tomorrow. Depending on how things go, they may just stop altogether and start providing her with comfort care. It’s hard to think about.
• Wedding planning!

The ugly:
• That time I burst into tears at the sight of myself in a bridesmaid dress. I’m pretty good at choosing outfits that look okay for my body type and I’m a fan of a lot of aspects of my overweight body, but damn. Seeing myself in the dress I’ll be wearing to my cousin’s wedding? No bueño. I haven’t felt that kind of body image sadness in a long time.
• Wedding planning!

And now, some pictures…
Love note.
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Baking with the kiddies.
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Perfection.
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New favorite dress.
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A project I did back in college. We analyzed ten separate frames of a film. I really miss my film studies classes.
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Treats for our nephew’s first birthday. How amazing is this?
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Heaven.
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