I may have been somewhat MIA over the last several weeks, but I promise I have not been idle. I have been hard at work on a wedding cake for a good friend of ours!
When the idea first came around, it was almost a joke. You see, I have a frustrating tendency to volunteer for everything. And even to make up events so I can then volunteer to do everything. It’s a sickness.
So as the groom-to-be was teasing me for volunteering to make a dairy-free Sweet Sixteen cake several months ago, he suddenly asked, “Hey, do you want to bake our wedding cake?”
And months of planning later…here I am!
Ever since I’ve known him, my husband has been on a quest for the perfect churro. You see, his family spent two weeks in Spain when he was a teenager, and Dave stuffed himself with churros for breakfast every morning.
He keeps telling me that churros are one of his favorite things, but every time he orders them in a restaurant, he is completely disappointed. All he wants is the churros of his childhood, which were apparently soft and bready with an intensely chocolate dipping sauce. But here in the U.S., most restaurants serve up the same hard, crunchy churro and mild, powdered hot chocolate—not at all what Dave has in mind.
So when Secret Recipe Club time rolled around again, I was excited to see that Jennifer from Peanut Butter and Peppers had posted a recipe for baked churros! Dave was so happy he did a cheer.
So will you, when you realize how easy it is to make churros and hot chocolate right at home! These babies turned out soft on the inside, crisp on the outside, with a great cinnamon coating. I added a bittersweet chocolate dipping sauce, and we were transported to Spain.
Did anyone else watch the American Baking Competition earlier this summer?
I was addicted to it (so bummed there won’t be a second season!). I loved the setup: bake a “signature” item, demonstrate technical expertise, bake something fancy and complicated. It really got me thinking…do I have a signature pie or a signature bread? I don’t really think so.
In one of the early weeks, the “showstopper” challenge was French macarons. I felt some sympathy for the poor bakers as they received criticism from the judges about consistency and texture. Until recently, I had never been able to make a proper macaron, not like those I sampled in Paris two years ago. Mine always came out a little flat, with frilly edges, and still quite gooey inside. I couldn’t understand it! I followed the famed Tartelette recipe to a T! I read tips and tutorials…I tried aging the egg whites vs. using fresh; using commercially ground almond meal vs. grinding my own; using Silpat vs. parchment; drying the shells longer; folding more vigorously; changing the oven temp…honestly, I was stumped.
Macarons can be so frustrating!
But then…I met the Italian meringue method. And for the first time ever, beautiful, properly baked macarons emerged from my oven! It was a miracle!
Be brave. Be friends with your candy thermometer. Make macarons the Italian way!