Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Two

April 11th, 2012 · 9 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

choc mousse spoon

Thanks for the feedback on my mousse project! As I anticipate typing the word “mousse” about a hundred times in the next couple days, I am totally waiting for “mouse” to slip into one of these posts and elude both the spellcheck and my mousse-addled eyes. If only I could blame Autocorrect when that happens…

Without further ado, mousse #2!

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Chocolate Mousse Methodology: Day One

April 10th, 2012 · 13 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

choc mousse board

Sometimes you find yourself in an inspiration drought. I know that seems practically impossible these days, when Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest means there’s all sorts of inspiration for the taking, all the time, but sometimes I find the reverse happening. When you’re surrounded by everyone else’s cool ideas, and it seems like everything original has already been done, it’s hard to have room for creative thoughts of your own in your mind. Sometimes I find I need to step away from the overstimulation and let my brain wander and percolate ideas on its own. Like the classic writers’ advice, to stop reading when you’re trying to write your own book, so you don’t let other voices drown out your own.

I can’t guarantee that the project I came up with is wholly original, but at least it was a happy kickstart.  I tried to re-organize my bookshelf for the tenth time (I keep coming up with new algorithms for determining hierarchy) and ended up picking out Cooking with Chocolate: Essential Recipes and Techniques, which was a nominee for IACP best baking book of 2011. I concur with the short-listing: it’s a comprehensive compendium of classic chocolate techniques, easy to follow, and written in English – that last criterion can be a real killer when searching for advanced/professional level baking books!

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Looking for Sunshine: Apricot Crumb Coffee Cake

March 30th, 2012 · 16 Comments · Cakes, Fruit, Recipes, Reviews

apricot coffee cake

It’s been raining a lot over here. April showers have come early, or maybe they’re winter rains that lost their way. Normally I like rain, especially after a dry winter that made me think I’d forgotten the sound of rain on the roof. In typical be-careful-what-you-ask-for-fashion, I am totally re-familiarized with rain. I still like the rain, particularly when I’m inside reading a book in my favorite spot on the couch. I’m not such a big fan anymore when I have to take my apparently hydrophobic dog out three times a day and stand for about 10 minutes outside convincing her to do her business.

So I’m ready for spring. And what better harbinger of sunshine than this package of dried apricots I got on my doorstep from Enduring Sun?

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{Cookbook Review}: 2011 Holiday Baking Cookbooks

December 8th, 2011 · 7 Comments · Cookbooks, Reviews

It’s that time again for one of my favorite posts of the year – the baking cookbook roundup!

I’m guessing that everyone is in holiday shopping mode, so if you’re still looking for a gift for your favorite baker, or maybe for your own bookshelf, there’s a great selection of baking cookbooks looking for an eager home. Some of my favorites from this year are listed in the sidebars to the right of this post, but let’s take a look at some of the latest releases – there’s truly something for every taste. May you all never run out of bookshelf space!

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{Cookbook Review} Cookie Time: Linzer Cookies and A Slew of Cookie Cookbooks

December 5th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Cookbooks, Cookies, Recipes, Reviews

linzer cookies

Happy December! Thanks to all who entered the Teacake Bake Shop giveaway. The winner of the cookie sampler, chosen at random, is:

Picture 1

Reader #10, Amy! Congratulations and hope you enjoy!

For everyone else, no need for sadness, as we are entering the prime cookie-baking season of the year. My fab friend Annelies just threw a cookie swap party over the weekend – keep an eye out for some truly tasty cookie recipes popping up on the blogs in the next few days. I have to admit I was a little unoriginal with my entry: I used one of my favorite linzer cookie recipes (making them always puts me in a holiday frame of mind), but I changed up the presentation with some little alphabet cookie cutters.

I’m going to be really nerdy and point out that we were asked to bring a dozen cookies to the party, and the phrase I chose worked out to a baker’s dozen. Sweet, yes? I also inadvertently provided some of the party entertainment by essentially bringing edible anagrams; obviously bloggers will be ardent wordsmiths, and I’ll let you figure out how we got from “Happy Holidays” to “Laos”.

For those of you looking for some more cookie inspiration, there are quite a few new cookie books out for the holidays. Let’s take a look (FYI, my full cookbook roundup will be following soon!)

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{Chocolate Review}: Toffee Theory

October 27th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Candy, Chocolate, Field Guide to Candy, Recipes, Reviews, San Francisco, SF Events

toffee field guide candy
image from Field Guide to Candy

A few weeks back, I was invited to be a judge for TasteTV‘s Best Toffee in North America Competition. A whole boxful of toffees delivered to my door? Yes, please!

Those of you who are curious about the difference between toffee, English toffees, and buttercrunch, feel free to see my older post on buttercrunch. I became quite obsessed with untangling the various monikers of this candy while researching my candy book, if you couldn’t tell.

These days, most buttercrunch is marketed simply as “toffee”; I only saw one brand out of thirteen that was labelled “English toffee” (Which may perhaps provide some comfort to poor Brits trying to find their version of the candy abroad). For that reason, I will refer to all the candy I sampled for the competition as toffee, to avoid confusion. I will maintain, though, my abiding love for the word “buttercrunch”. If I ever make and sell my own version, I’ll call it buttercrunch, and probably confuse the heck out of everyone.

So how does one determine the best toffee?

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