Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Mistletoe Cookery: Christmas Cookies

Monday, December 19th, 2016

On the seventh day of Turnip, we have… cookies from Christine!

In honor of the launch of The Lure of the Moonflower back in 2015, Christine concocted a full year of Pink Carnation baked goods, one recipe per book. The recipe below was Christine’s culinary homage to The Mischief of the Mistletoe. (Thanks, Christine!)

And now over to Christine for a cookie recipe to put us all in a festive mood:

Mistletoe_cvrThe Christmas holidays play a big part in both The Temptation of the Night Jasmine and The Mischief of the Mistletoe. I had every intention of making a Christmas pudding for this entry, but the recipes were… well… gross. Suet and sugar just doesn’t work for me. So I looked for inspiration elsewhere. Then it hit me while watching Holiday Baking Championship on the Food Network (is it just me or is the Food Network all competitions these days?). On the first episode, the contestants made cookies and some of them were required to make spritz cookies. All of a sudden, I HAD to have a cookie press. My best friend, being the wonderful person she is, sent me a cookie press as an early Christmas present.

The recipe I used (with one minor adjustment) is the one that came with the cookie press’s instruction booklet from Oxo.

Ingredients:
– 3 sticks of butter, room temperature
– 1 cup of sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt
– 2 large eggs, room temperature
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used almond extract, and other options include lemon extract, orange zest, etc.)
– 4 cups of all purpose flour
– decorating sugar and sprinkles

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cream together butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
3. Add extract and eggs, one at a time, continuously beating.
4. Gradually add flour, beating until well incorporated.
5. Using cookie press to place cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until cookies are golden brown around the edges. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking time.

The recipe yields about 12 dozen small cookies, and I baked for about 9 minutes. If you’ve never used a cookie press (this was my first time), keep pumping until you feel resistance for each cookie. I also used an assortment of sprinkles and sugar that I got in a mixed pack from Target. I think it’s been well documented in this year-long journey through baked goods that decorating stuff isn’t my strong suit, but the cookie press made some adorable little cookies.

IMG_1071

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the recipes so far, and happy holidays to all!

Thank you so much, Christine! Those are so dainty and delicious-looking.

Every December, my little sister and I make the gingerbread cookies off the back of the Grandma’s molasses bottle (which appears to no longer be on the back of the molasses bottle) and sugar cookies, with varying recipes, since I’m still looking for a recipe I really like. Last year, Tasha Alexander, baker extraordinaire (as well as amazing writer) shared her sugar cookie recipe with me, and this year I’ll be trying the one from the back of the Sur la Table cookie cutters.

christmas-cookies

Do you all have any favorite holiday cookie recipes? (Please share!)

More recipes coming up soon as Twelve Days of Turnip continues!



Pink Carnation Cookery: Biscoitos

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Today we have the final installment in our Pink Carnation Cookery series from the wonderful Christine!

It does seem fitting that the last of the recipes should represent the last of the Pink books. This month, Christine has whipped up Portuguese biscoitos in honor of Jack and Jane’s adventures in Portugal in The Lure of the Moonflower.

I should turn the floor over to Christine now, but, first, I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to Christine for making time in her insanely busy schedule to think up and execute all of these amazing recipes. I’ve enjoyed them so and I know I’ll be baking many of these for years to come.

Thank you!!!!

And now, without further babbling from me, over to Christine….

Lure of the Moonflower_deeper sky2Well, after a year, we’ve finally come to the last Pink Carnation recipe. We don’t know much about The Lure of the Moonflower yet, but we do know it’s set in Portugal. When I started looking up Portuguese recipes, one treat I kept seeing over and over was Portuguese biscoitos, or biscotti. It’s also fitting that biscotti goes so well with coffee and Lauren loves her coffee! This recipe was taken from Avo’s Biscoitos at food.com, but I adapted it a bit. The original recipe yields 45-55 cookies, which was a bit much for me, so I halved (most of) the ingredients and got 2 dozen.

Ingredients:
1 stick of butter, softened
3/4 cup of sugar
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
3 eggs
2 teaspoons of baking powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cream butter and sugar together.
3. Add eggs, mixing until blended.
4. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder.
5. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture.
6. If dough is too dry, knead a bit. If too wet, add a little more flour.
7. Break off ping pong sized balls.
8. Roll dough between your hands until you get a 5 inch rope.
9. Join the ends together, forming a circle, and fold one end over the other.
10. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown

Mine weren’t all that golden but my oven is weird and I didn’t want to burn them. They were absolutely delicious.

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I first started reading the Pink Carnation books a few years after The Secret History of the Pink Carnation was first released. At the time, I was working part-time for a test prep company and part of my job was proctoring practice exams. That involved me saying “begin,” “5 minutes remaining,” and “stop work,” and doing a whole lot of sitting around in between. It left a lot of time for reading. Based on past purchases, Amazon suggested The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. It sounded right up my alley and I loved it. I was hooked. A few months later, I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren at a book festival and she was just as awesome as I imagined she would be – funny, brilliant and quirky in her own special way. I think she may have accidentally spilled coffee on a fan that day.

Thanks to everyone reading this for indulging me over the past year. I’ve had a lot of fun, tried recipes I wouldn’t have normally tried, and my stand mixer got a lot of mileage.

Lauren, I thank you so much for the wonderful books and I look forward to your future books. It was easy for me to be creative when I had such great inspiration.

Thank you so much, Christine! I’m about two-thirds of the way through writing The Lure of the Moonflower and Jack and Jane are being difficult. Do you think if I bribe them with these cookies, they’ll settle down? Or maybe I should skip the middleman and just bribe me with these cookies….

In the meantime, I’m raising a cup of tea to Christine, for creating all of these wonderful recipes. I doff my baking trays to you!

You can find all of Christine’s recipes here. Which was your favorite?

Here’s the complete list:

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation: Madeleines
The Masque of the Black Tulip: Ginger Biscuits
The Deception of the Emerald Ring: Irish Lace Cookies
The Seduction of the Crimson Rose: Strawberry Cakes
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine: Holiday Cookies
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily: Nan Khatai
The Mischief of the Mistletoe: Holiday Cookies
The Orchid Affair: Peppermint Marzipan Bites
The Garden Intrigue: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria: Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes
The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla: Vampire Cookies
The Lure of the Moonflower: Biscoitos



Pink Carnation Cookery: Holiday Cookies

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

It’s Pink Carnation cookery time! In honor of the holidays and The Mischief of the Mistletoe, Christine has whipped up something rather more edible than Miss Climpson’s mince pies. (Don’t get Sally started on those.)

Instead, we’ve got… holiday cookies!

And now over to Christine for a cookie recipe to put us all in a festive mood:

Mistletoe_cvrThe Christmas holidays play a big part in both The Temptation of the Night Jasmine and The Mischief of the Mistletoe. I had every intention of making a Christmas pudding for this entry, but the recipes were… well… gross. Suet and sugar just doesn’t work for me. So I looked for inspiration elsewhere. Then it hit me while watching Holiday Baking Championship on the Food Network (is it just me or is the Food Network all competitions these days?). On the first episode, the contestants made cookies and some of them were required to make spritz cookies. All of a sudden, I HAD to have a cookie press. My best friend, being the wonderful person she is, sent me a cookie press as an early Christmas present.

The recipe I used (with one minor adjustment) is the one that came with the cookie press’s instruction booklet from Oxo.

Ingredients:
– 3 sticks of butter, room temperature
– 1 cup of sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt
– 2 large eggs, room temperature
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used almond extract, and other options include lemon extract, orange zest, etc.)
– 4 cups of all purpose flour
– decorating sugar and sprinkles

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cream together butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
3. Add extract and eggs, one at a time, continuously beating.
4. Gradually add flour, beating until well incorporated.
5. Using cookie press to place cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until cookies are golden brown around the edges. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking time.

The recipe yields about 12 dozen small cookies, and I baked for about 9 minutes. If you’ve never used a cookie press (this was my first time), keep pumping until you feel resistance for each cookie. I also used an assortment of sprinkles and sugar that I got in a mixed pack from Target. I think it’s been well documented in this year-long journey through baked goods that decorating stuff isn’t my strong suit, but the cookie press made some adorable little cookies.

IMG_1071

Our Pink Recipes have almost come to an end. The only one left is The Lure of the Moonflower, to come next month. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the recipes so far, and happy holidays to all!

Thank you so much, Christine! Those are so dainty and delicious-looking. I’ve enjoyed both the recipes and the commentary, and I’m so looking forward to seeing what you whip up for The Lure of the Moonflower.

Every December, my little sister and I make the gingerbread cookies off the back of the Grandma’s molasses bottle (which appears to no longer be on the back of the molasses bottle) and sugar cookies, with varying recipes, since I’m still looking for a recipe I really like. Last year, Tasha Alexander, baker extraordinaire (as well as amazing writer) shared her sugar cookie recipe with me, and this year I’ll be trying Betty’s.

Do you all have any holiday cookie favorites?

Happy holidays, all!



Pink Carnation Cookery: Strawberry Tarts

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts, all on a summer’s day. The knave of hearts, he stole those tarts and took them clean away….

If ever there was a candidate for the Queen of Hearts, it’s Mary Alsworthy. And while we’re speaking of knaves…. Hello, Lord Vaughn!

So it seems particularly appropriate that the ever-resourceful and talented Christine chose strawberry tarts (okay, cakes, really– but for some reason, I keep thinking of them as tarts) for this month’s Pink Carnation cookery, in honor of Lord and Lady Vaughn.

The first three Pink Carnation books were all set during the summer. The Seduction of the Crimson Rose was my first autumn book: waning days, darkening skies, and a slightly older, more cynical hero and heroine.

So, for November, Christine brings you… Lord and Lady Vaughn’s Strawberry Tarts (or Cakes)!

And now over to Christine:

I was scouring the Internet looking for something that Lord and Lady Vaughn would approve of. I found a picture of adorable mini sponge cake towers with strawberry frosting in between the layers, adorned with a tiny strawberries on top. What’s sexier than strawberries and frosting? But, darn you, Pinterest! No links to the actual recipes! So I had to make do and try to recreate them on my own.

I started with Martha Stewart’s pound cake recipe and an AllRecipes strawberry frosting recipe, paired with a heart-shaped cookie cutter I got as a wedding favor years ago.

Pound cake:

Ingredients:
2 sticks of butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease pan.
2. Beat sugar and butter on high speed until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.
4. Add vanilla and salt.
5. On low speed, gradually add flour, being careful not to overmix.
6. Martha used an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan and baked for an hour. I used a 9 x 13 pan because I wanted a thin cake that I could use the cookie cutters on. My baking time was 30-35 minutes.
7. Cool completely then cut as desired.

Frosting:
A lot of frosting is based on personal preference – how strong you want the strawberry flavor, how thick you want the frosting to be, how much you want to layer. I personally don’t like very sweet frosting. There was an unfortunate incident in which I tried to make Elmo cookies for my son’s birthday. The entire face had to be frosted with a thick royal icing. It was so overly sweet that I couldn’t eat any, which is sad because I spent a good 3-4 hours making them.

These are the steps as listed in the recipe, but if you like a stronger flavor, add more strawberries. If you want a thicker frosting, add more sugar. The original recipe is for 18 servings. I cut the recipe in half and still had more than I needed. Husband and son were glad to have plenty of frosting to dump on their cakes for the next few days.

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh strawberries (and a few saved for decorating the cakes)
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Steps:
1. Puree strawberries in a blender.
2. Pour puree into a pot and let boil until puree is reduced by half. This will take 15-20 minutes. Stir constantly.
3. Beat butter until light and fluffy.
4. Beat 1 cup of sugar into the butter.
5. Add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of strawberry puree.
6. Repeat with another 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of puree.
7. Beat last 1/2 cup of sugar into mixture.

Putting it all together:
Layer the cakes with frosting in between, decorating the top as you want.

IMG_0799

I loved how the frosting came out a bit glossy. I ended up using about a full cup of strawberries, 1/2 cup butter and 1 3/4 cups of confectioners sugar.

What do you think? What would Vaughns approve?

If you need a break from the pumpkin pie next week, just give these a whirl! Thanks so much, Christine! These look scrumptious.

If the Vaughns are all about strawberries and the Fitzhughs have their thing about raspberries, which fruits or berries belong to the other Pink characters?

Miles would now like to know whether “ginger” counts as a fruit.



Pink Carnation Cookery: Vampire Cookies

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

This month, in honor of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla and its mysterious hero, Christine brings us… vampire cookies!

I love sugar cookies (and Halloween), so I am very excited to make these.

One other genius bit about this recipe? These cookies contain jam. Raspberry jam.

What more appropriate ingredient could there be for a cookie connected to a member of the Fitzhugh family?

And now… over to Christine!

I’m usually not a huge fan of vampires. In fact, this vampire craze drives me insane. There are a few exceptions, notably Deanna Raybourn’s “The Dead Travel Fast” and Deborah Harkness’ “A Discovery of Witches.” The latest addition to my short list of “vampires” I love? The Duke of Belliston. Is he? Isn’t he? What is going on with that charming, secretive man? In honor of the Duke, and Halloween, Pink Kitchen brings you vampire cookies (brought to you by food.com)!

Note of warning: this recipe requires you to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, so best not to promise the kids they can help make Halloween cookies only to realize a few steps in that your plan has fallen through. Then you’ll have no cookies and upset children. I made and refrigerated the dough first, then told the child he could help with the cookies.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup red jam (strawberry, raspberry, etc.)
Toothpick

Directions:
1. Cream together sugar and butter. (I typically cut back on the butter called for in recipes. I used 1/2 cup and it was fine.)
2. Beat in egg and extracts to the mixture. (Also realized once I opened the lid that the bottle of vanilla extract was completely empty, so I just added more almond.)
3. Add flour and salt and mix everything together until ingredients are just combined.
4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
6. Take out half the dough and roll out on lightly floured surface to about an 1/8 inch. (The comments on the recipe say to only take out as much dough as you need at a time because the dough should be as cold as possible.)
7. Use a cookie cutter (or small glass) to cut 2 inch rounds.
8. Put half the rounds on a cookie sheet then put a teaspoon (or less) of jam in the middle of each round.
9. Cover each with a second round then press down on the edges gently to form the cookies.
10. Use a toothpick to poke two small holes into each cookie, like vampire bites.
11. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are set.
12. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack.
13. Optional: dip a toothpick into jam and re-insert into the “bites” to emphasize them, and create a “blood” trail with some of the leftover jam.

Cookies are best the day they’re made (according to the recipe). There’s a sweet spot between when the dough is too hard and when it becomes too soft, so you’ll have to work quickly. The recipe made 25 rounds for me, so I made 24 vampire jam cookies and 1 jam taco cookie. I’m really bad at estimating measurements, but I’m pretty sure I used a lot less than a teaspoon of jam per cookie. I just used whatever looked like a good amount in the middle that wouldn’t ooze out too badly from the sides. I made the “blood” trail on just a few of them to see what they would look like.

photo (42)

Verdict? Good. Really good. Like shockingly way better than expected. Enjoy!

Thank you so much for these, Christine! (And I’m very relieved I’m not the only one who always winds up putting in way less filling than the recipe calls for.)

Do you think we could get Miles to abandon his ginger biscuits for a day and try these instead?

One thing I do know: Turnip is a fan. You had him at raspberry jam….

(Or you would have if Parsnip hadn’t gotten to the cookies first and eaten all the jam out. But I digress.)

Happy almost Halloween, all!



Pink Carnation Cookery: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

As summer winds down to a close, Christine brings us another Pink Carnation-themed treat… chocolate chip cookie ice cream bowls, in honor of The Garden Intrigue‘s American heroine, Emma Morris Delagardie.

There’s something about August and ice cream that just go together like chocolate chip and cookie….

Now over to Christine!

The hot days of summer are finally (hopefully?) winding down to an end, and why not celebrate with a big bowl of ice cream… a cookie bowl, that is. To honor The Garden Intrigue‘s American heroine, Mme Emma Delgardie, we bring you chocolate chip cookie bowls. Earlier this year, chocolate chip cookie shot glasses became pretty hot, but I’m not one to stand in line for 4 hours for any kind of fad food (I made ramen burgers… good, but not stand in line for any amount of time good). I found a recipe for the shot glasses and decided to adapt it to make ice cream bowls.

If you haven’t seen the epic Pinterest Fail for chocolate chip cookie bowls, this is a great collection of images. Unlike the Pinterest recipes, this one calls for making the bowls inside a pan, not outside.

This recipe comes from Wanna Come With?

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
a little more chocolate to melt for inside of bowls

Directions:
1. Whisk together flour and salt and set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy.
3. Add vanilla and egg yolk.
4. On low speed, add in dry mixture until just combined.
5. Separate dough into two balls then roll out until just under 1/4 inch thick. The dough was just a little crumbly so I found it easiest to alternate between rolling and smashing.
6. Refrigerate at least half an hour.
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease whatever pan you choose to use.
8. Cut out rough pieces and line the inside of the pan (in my case, large muffin tin). It’s ok if the pieces overlap, just be sure to press them down. Don’t be too concerned with making them “pretty.” When I took the dough out of the fridge, it was crumbly and tough to handle. It took a few minutes to warm them up to a temperature where they were pliable. There was a lot of breaking off chunks and mashing them together involved. As long as you don’t have any holes in the dough, it’ll all melt together in the oven anyway. Try to make it as even as possible all the way around so each cup cooks evenly.
8a. Use any leftover dough to make delicious cookies! This recipe was designed for cookie cutter use. I had the perfect amount to fill a 6-cup large muffin tin.
9. Bake for 13-17 minutes. The edges will start to brown when they’re ready. Be careful not to under-bake.
10. Remove from the oven and let cool. The recipe says about 15 minutes. She also notes that the bottoms puffed up a bit so she pushed them back down before they cooled completely. After they’re cool enough to handle, remove from pan.
11. Melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave or double boiler.
12. Line the inside of the cookie bowls (or glasses, cups, whatever) with a thin layer of chocolate. You don’t want too much chocolate, just enough to coat the inside of the bowls to prevent leaks. The sides aren’t so much a concern – just the bottom.
13. Cool chocolate completely then fill with the treat of your choice!

Well, 50% of my 6 bowls survived. The other 3 fell apart while coming out of the tin. I think they were too thick. Since the bottoms were so thick, I decided to skip the layer of chocolate. I think there’s little risk of anything melting through these.

photo (39)

Next time I would definitely let the dough sit for a couple of minutes after coming out of the fridge. The ones that were made with the more pliable dough were definitely more likely to make it out in one piece. But the ones that fell apart are still delicious cookies – my husband had a literal fork in them within minutes of them hitting the “reject” plate.

Happy end of summer!

Thank you so much, Christine! Chipwiches are one of my favorite summer treats (thank you, Trader Joe’s!), so I know I’m going to love these….

What kind of ice cream would you pair with these?



Pink Carnation Cookery: June Ginger Biscuits

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Here’s a little secret for you: the modern hero of That Summer, Nicholas Dorrington, enjoys ginger biscuits just as much as his Regency predecessor, Miles.

In honor of Dorringtons past and present, the amazing Christine has presented us with a recipe for… ginger biscuits. Let the Dorrington munching begin!

And now over to Christine….

In June, we welcome That Summer into the publishing world, and the return of the Dorringtons. What would be better than a recipe for ginger biscuits? I wanted to make this as authentic as possible (sorry, Food Network) so I looked for recipes on British sites or British blogs.

I ran into a problem, aside from having to convert all the measurements and trying to decipher oven settings I had never heard of, some of the recipes called for ingredients I wasn’t particularly familiar with. Many of them used self-rising flour, which I’ve never used. Most websites said this is just regular flour with baking powder, and that you should never, ever add another leavening agent to the mix. Some recipes called for both self-rising flour and baking powder or baking soda. Many, but not all, recipes also called for golden syrup. My Internet research revealed that this is an ingredient common in the UK, but not so common in the US, particularly if you don’t live in a big city. I’ve found that many times, in baking and cooking, I need to find several recipes for a dish then play around with them to find what works best for me, so that’s what I did here. The basic proportions for flour, butter, sugar and egg were consistent, so I just went with it. I suspect many of you won’t be able to find golden syrup so I did without, but if you do, I’d love to know how it turns out! (6-8 tablespoons is what a lot of the recipes called for)

The recipe below is a combination of those found on BBC Good Food, Larder Love, and Busy Butterfingers.

Ingredients:
1. 4 tablespoons of butter
2. 1 egg
3. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4. 1 cup sugar
5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
6. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
7. Optional for topping: 3/4 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Melt the butter.
3. Add in the 1 cup of sugar then allow the mixture to cool.
4. Mix together the flour, baking powder and ground ginger.
5. Add in the butter/sugar mixture.
6. Add the egg.
7. Form into balls and line on baking tray.
8. Optional topping: mix 3/4 tsp sugar and 1/4 tsp ground ginger and sprinkle on top.
9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

I really wanted to top the cookies with some candied ginger, but I couldn’t find a container that was smaller than what I would call ginormous, so I went with the sugar/ginger mixture instead.

The cookies turned out pale, as I suspected they would without the golden syrup. They didn’t have that delightful brown color you would expect. Some websites claim there is no true substitute for golden syrup, while others offer “make your own” recipes. It’s a pure cane syrup that’s supposed to add a buttery flavor. I think the syrup definitely would have boosted the flavor, but the cookies still had a great ginger flavor, especially with the kick of sugar and ginger on top. If I’m ever in the UK, I will have to bring home a bottle of golden syrup and give this another shot.

What do you think? Have you cooked with golden syrup before? And what’s your favorite ginger cookie recipe?

I’ll post my favorite (American) ones here next week– for Eloise to cook for Colin, of course.



Pink Carnation Cookery: May Madeleines!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

In honor of the merry, merry month of May, Christine brings us… Madeleines!

With this cookie, we go back to the very beginning of the series, to The Secret History of the Pink Carnation….

And now over to Christine!

Pink 1 coverIn the Spring of 1803, Amy Balcourt, along with her cousin Jane Wooliston, and chaperone, Gwen Meadows, set sail for France, which would lead to the birth of the Pink Carnation. It’s been a long, cold winter, but spring has finally definitely arrived (or at least, at the time of this writing, I hope it has!), so we celebrate Miss Amy, the Purple Gentian, the Pink Carnation, and France with Madeleines.

The only previous experience I’ve had with Madeleines are a desperation hunger grab during a trip to Starbucks and that episode of “Friends” when Ross described Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Madeleines as “lighter than air.”

There are about a million Madeleine recipes online but I opted for one that looked simple enough, for the novice baker, and had a ton of great reviews (the only negative review said that Madeleines should not be light and airy, but rather should be dense and buttery, like the ones at Starbucks. I decided to stick with the opinions of the 100 other people who said it was a good recipe).

The recipe below is taken from allrecipes.com:

Ingredients:
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest (I substituted orange)
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar for decoration (the recipe says granulated sugar but I assume that’s a mistake based on every picture of Madeleines I’ve ever seen)

1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease 12-Madeleine pan.
2. Melt butter and let cool to room temperature.
3. Beat eggs, vanilla and salt together at a high speed until airy (this only took about a minute).
4. While continuing to beat, add the granulated sugar. Continuing beating until the mixture is thick and forms ribbons when the beaters are lifted. This will take about 5-10 minutes (mine looked somewhere between thin frosting and thick pancake batter).
5. Sift flour into egg mixture, 1/3 at a time, gently folding.
6. Add lemon (or orange) zest, then pour butter around the edge of the mixture. Quickly but gently, fold it in.
7. Spoon batter into the pan. The batter will mound over the tops.
8. Bake 14-17 minutes. Cakes should spring back when you gently press a finger into them.
9. Loosen the Madeleines with the tip of a knife and invert onto a wire rack to cool, with the shell-side facing up (I had greased a non-stick pan and they slid out without any effort).
10. Quickly dust the hot Madeleines with powdered sugar (I used far less than the 1/3 cup stated in the recipe).

This was actually much easier than I thought it would be, and they came out looking good. Well, the dusting could’ve been neater, but the cakes were pretty. I baked them for 15 minutes and I think they were a tad over-baked. A little too dense and crunchy along the edges (though I LOVE crunchy cookies). And absolutely delicious.

photo (35)

I consider my first foray into Madeleines close to a success, and I’m looking forward to trying some of the ones on this impressive list from Huffington Post.

Enjoy!

Don’t those look amazing? I am thrilled to hear that these were easier than they look, because they are very popular chez moi– and those little boxes of them from the supermarket don’t tend to last long. (My spouse swears it’s the fault of Francophile gnomes.)

Thank you so much, Christine! I will definitely be trying this recipe.

Here’s the big question: lemon zest, orange zest, or plain?



Pink Carnation Cookery: Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

For this month’s adventure in Pink Carnation cookery, Christine brings us… Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes in honor of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria!

passionI cannot tell you how excited I am about these. Caramel and chocolate are among my favorite combos (chocolate and peanut butter are also up there, but work less well in latte form). Grande caramel mochas have fueled me through the writing of at least one of my books.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Miss Gwen needed a little chocolate/caramel snack to help her along at points during the writing of her 1806 blockbuster hit, The Convent of Orsino….

Without further ado, Christine’s molten caramel brownie cakes!

Without giving away too much, we all learned in The Passion of the Purple Plumeria that Miss Gwen is full of secrets. Like Miss Gwen, these brownies have a secret too, but this secret is caramel.

This recipe for Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes was taken from Christina Marsigliese’s blog. The original recipe called for peanut butter as well as caramel. I skipped the peanut butter. The blog also contains a link to a caramel recipe, but I used one I’ve used in the past, from the New York Times. The video is really helpful but doesn’t tell you how long it’ll take. It took me about 15-20 minutes this time, but the first time I tried it, it was more like 30 minutes.

Brownie ingredients:

3 oz baking chocolate (I used semisweet)
6 tbsp butter (it’ll melt faster if they’re cut up into 1 tbsp pieces)
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
(the original recipe also includes 1/4 tsp salt, but she didn’t actually incorporate that anywhere in the recipe, so I’m leaving it out)

Caramel sauce ingredients:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
another 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Brownie directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
2. Set up a double boiler with a heatproof bowl and a pot with 1/2 inch simmering water.
3. Stir together the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in the double boiler until melted and smooth.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs enough to break and blend the yolks.
5. Add the sugars to the eggs and whisk vigorously until the mixture becomes smooth and thickened.
6. Whisk vanilla extract and chocolate mixture into egg mixture until smooth.
7. Whisk flour into mixture, just long enough for everything to become well blended.
8. Set aside mixture while you make the caramel sauce.

Caramel sauce directions:

1. Heat a pan until it is very hot.
2. On low heat, sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar all around the pan and shake the pan so sugar is evenly distributed. Sugar will quickly start to melt.
3. Add the second 1/3 cup of sugar.
4. Swirl the pan every so often to make sure the sugar cooks evenly.
5. When the sugar is dark brown, it’s ready (the video says until it’s the color of an Irish setter, but I’m not a dog person so I have no idea what that color is).
6. Turn off the heat and add the heavy cream. Turn the heat back on.
7. The caramel may try to ball up, but keep stirring it around in the cream. Once the caramel is dissolved and smooth, add the vanilla extract and salt.
8. Once the caramel is syrupy and thick, but a little thinner than you would want it, remove from heat and pour into heatproof container.

This is a slow process and requires you to keep a close eye on the pan so make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Not particularly difficult, just requires some caution. This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of caramel sauce, which is far more than you need for the brownies, but plenty of other uses for delicious caramel sauce!

Combining the parts:

1. Fill each cup of the muffin pan about halfway with the brownie mixture.
2. Add about a teaspoon of the caramel sauce to the center of each cup.
3. Using a spoon, cover up the caramel with the brownie mixture as best you can. Or if you’re not going for the molten effect, use a toothpick to swirl the caramel into the brownie.
4. Put in the oven at 325 degrees until slightly puffed. Original recipe says about 13 minutes. Mine took more like 25-30 minutes, but that may be because I was using a silicone pan.
5. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

For some reason, I could only make 9 cakes out of this recipe, even with the cups filled halfway. The molten effect will only happen when they’re fresh out of the oven. Afterwards, it will be more fudge-y. The brownies in general were pretty fudge-y.

The brownie batter had thickened up a bit while I was making the caramel sauce, so I would recommend creating a well in the individual cups before pouring in the caramel sauce. My sauce ran all over and it made it harder to try to cover up the sauce. Mine definitely came out more marbled than molten, but they seemed to be a success – I came home from work the next day and my husband had eaten all of them.

Interested in more molten lava cakes? Buzzfeed has this fantastic list!

Thank you so much, Christine! I meant to make these this weekend, but circumstances (and a small person) intervened. But, at some point soon, they will be mine! And when I make them, I’ll post the pictures here and on Facebook….

(Miss Gwen not included.)



Pink Carnation Cookery: “Emerald Ring” Cookies

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Christine brings us Irish Lace cookies inspired by The Deception of the Emerald Ring. Brew yourself a strong cup of tea, put some Irish ballads on the iPod, and here we go….

In The Deception of the Emerald Ring, Letty and Geoff run off to Ireland to help the Pink Carnation on yet another spying mission. To celebrate the trip of Lord and Lady Pinchingdale, and St. Patrick’s Day, we bring you Irish Lace Cookies.

Emerald PaperbackRecipe taken from Epicurious:

Ingredients:

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix butter and sugar until creamy.
3. Add flour, milk and vanilla extract to butter mixture
4. Add oats.
5. Drop cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 3 inches apart.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden
7. Let cool for 1 minute or until firm enough to move with a spatula.
8. Move to wire rack and cool completely.

The recipe said this makes about 40 cookies, based on using rounded teaspoon-sized drops. I got about 15 large-ish cookies using a teaspoon. Some of them didn’t flatten out as much as they should have, so I would make them much smaller next time. Also, try to make the drops as even as possible. Some flatted completely and others only flattened about halfway.

There’s also an option to roll them, but the reviews were mixed on that. Some people had a very easy time doing it, others said the cookie crumbled way too easily.

Getting them off the cookie sheet wasn’t the easiest thing, even after I waited a few minutes. The cookies were still too soft and lost shape every time I tried to lift them up. Probably a result of the uneven spreading. The ones that were the easiest to lift (and least likely to fall apart) were the ones that had spread the most evenly. Photo is the one that came out the prettiest. Looks pretty good when it’s done right!

photo(1)

Overall, very delicious recipe, but the execution is going to take a few tries to get right. They’re wonderfully sweet and crispy once they cool completely. Lots of mistakes with this attempt, but even mistakes can be delicious!

I adhere strongly to the theory that anything with oats in them must be healthy. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.) Therefore, these cookies are a guilt-free treat.

There is also something about oat-based cookies that strikes me as distinctly appropriate for Letty. She does seem like the sort who would go for the oatmeal raisin rather than the chocolate chip, don’t you agree?

Thanks so much for the recipe, Christine! And happy St. Patrick’s Day, all….