I stopped into Williams-Sonoma on my way home today, and as always, wanted to buy everything! I love this store. I want to marry this store.
I especially wanted the following items. Notice how everything is red? Could it be that I want everything to match my KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer???
The Stripe Apron and Oven Mitt in Claret (even though I already own a Williams-Sonoma apron, but it’s blue, not red)
Emile Henry Mixing Bowls
Silicone Rolling Pin
I’ve wanted to make my own croissants for a very long time now. In fact, I think they are my number one item on the baking bucket list. But all I’ve ever heard about making your own croissants is how hard and time consuming they are. It was a task that seemed too daunting so I never got around to actually trying.
But then I found myself with a whole evening ahead of me, so I took the plunge. I looked up a couple of recipes, and finally settled on one from The Joy of Cooking. Six hours of rolling and folding and more rolling and folding, I had croissants! I’m not going to lie, it was hard work. There were many stages throughout the process, with resting times for the dough to rise or chill in the fridge in between each stage. But in the end, I had delicious melt-in-your mouth croissants. The only problem was I had no one to pawn them off on, and ended up eating them all over the course of a few days! The extra hours at the gym was worth it though, for these buttery bad boys!
Here is a photo of the first half of the batch I baked up. I think I was too liberal with my egg wash and so I ended up burning the ends a bit.
The next morning, I baked up the remaining half of the dough. I filled some with chocolate, to make pain au chocolat, and the rest with cheese - my favourite :)
I wish I could post the recipe here for you, but it was way too long and complicated to re-type here. I couldn’t find a link to it online either. But there are tons of recipes out there on the internet, though I do recommend this one from The Joy of Cooking - simple to follow and a great beginner’s recipe.
KINGS OF PASTRY, a film by Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker
Before the holidays, my dear friend Jenn came over to eat cookies, drink tea, and watch Kings of Pastry, a documentary about French pastry chefs competing in the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (Best Craftsmen in France), a prestigious and grueling three-day event that tests the chefs skills and strength in various aspects of the art de patisserie.
I’ve always said that if I ever stopped working in theatre, I would go to pastry school and become a professional baker. After watching this film, the dream became even more real and tangible. I seriously wanted to do it. One of the competitors featured in the film founded The French Pastry School in Chicago - the only culinary school that focuses solely on baking. Unfortunately, tuition is approximately $23,000 for six months…sigh…
So until I make that career-changing decision/until I can afford to go, I will just continue to bake as a hobby here in Toronto. And in the meantime, I highly recommend you watch this film. It’s a must-see for anyone who likes baking, or eating baked goods!
p.s. check out Jenn’s blog here. She is one crafty lady who loves good food and pretty things and culture and this city of ours, and is someone i can always count on to take my cookies off my hands for me!
For the past two years now, I have been attending Lindsay and The Rev’s annual holiday Cookie Party (they have been hosting this party for five years). It’s a lovely little get-together where guests are encouraged to bring their favourite homemade or store-bought cookie to the party. Hot chocolate is served, and alcoholic additions to the hot chocolate is always welcome, though the party is usually on a weekend afternoon :)
At this party, three awards are handed out: Most Delicious, Most Attractive, and People’s Choice. Not only do you have the honour and prestige of the title, but you also get a present! Needless to say, we all want to win every year.
Here is a shot from the Fourth Annual Cookie Party, 2010.
I submitted THREE cookies to this party. My signature chocolate chip cookies, macaron attempt #2, and a white chocolate peppermint patty on a chocolate cookie.
And guess what? the Peppermint thing won Most Attractive Cookie!
So when the Fifth Annual Cookie Party rolled around this year, I felt extra pressure to defend my title. I spent the week leading up to the party test-baking a bunch of new recipes, and settled on four different recipes to submit this year. Unfortunately, I ran out of time the morning of the party, and even though I had prepped for four cookies, was only able to execute two of them: an Earl Grey Tea Cookie, and a Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich.
This year’s spread:
And drum roll please…
My Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwiches with a Cream Cheese Centre won for Most Attractive Cookie. TITLE DEFENDED!
Martha Stewart’s Carrot Cookie Sandwich (aka Izzy’s Most Attractive cookie)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
One of the top items on my Bucket List is mastering the French Macaron. It takes some pastry chefs years to master this tricky recipe, and after trying a few times, I now know why. Working with macarons is tough. Of all the things I’ve baked, this is the one that is the most precise and scientific. The egg whites need to be peaked just right, or the whole thing fails. To date, I have tried four times, with each batch progressively getting (slightly) better and better. The last attempt actually looked like real macarons, but the buttercream filling was a bit too buttery and messy to hold the cookie together. I can’t wait to try again with my new Kitchenaid!
I found this quirky little Japanese book about macarons to be pretty helpful in my endeavours to master the recipe. There are tons of tips and even a troubleshooting page. It also includes a bunch of recipes for all those leftover egg yolks!
IZZY’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
This is a recipe I can bake in my sleep. I started with a simple chocolate chip cookie recipe in high school, and through the years, have tweaked and adapted the recipe to what it is today. I don’t mean to brag, but people go crazy for this cookie! I have baked them for countless events, birthdays, get-togethers, show openings, and they never fail to be a hit with the crowd. As simple as they are, it is my signature dish and the one recipe I never give away.
I’ve been coveting this KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer for YEARS. Always hoping that somebody would one day buy it for me for Christmas or my birthday. But alas, I went through years with a lower-end stand mixer. This year though, I just couldn’t resist treating myself to my dream appliance. Merry Christmas, Izzy!