I want my babies to look like this!!
(I have been trying to make macarons„ despite the current reigning failure streak.)
UK-based design firm DIY Kyoto has come up with a clever plan to allow homeowners to visibly see how much energy they are using in their home at any given moment. Wattson, a portable and wireless device, hooks up to the main fuse box of any home and a bright display shows how much energy is being used in either in watts or cost over the past 28 days. The program also allows the user to put the information online in a community, where ideas about saving electricity are shared.
(from Lost At E Minor.)
Try to be environmentally friendly, people!!
My complete valentine’s day package: brownies, meringues, rice krispy treats and chocolate chip cookies. (Recipe for them brownies over heree!!)
Tamasin’s Overnight Meringues
110g/4oz egg whites
220g/8oz unrefined caster sugar
30g/1oz flaked almonds (omitted)
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Cover two large baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.
2. Put the egg whites in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is quite warm to the touch.
3. Whisk in a KitchenAid or with electric beaters until thick and cool, about 15-20 minutes.
4. Spoon 6 large mounds of meringue onto each tray and lightly sprinkle with almonds. Place the trays in the oven, turn off the heat and leave the meringues to dry out overnight.
(Instead of 6 large mounds, I used a 1 tablespoon ice-cream scoop to make tiny roundish blobs. And welllll, mine turned out really nice and marshmallowy in the middle, though. Now I realize that I didn’t quite follow the recipe. Instead, I whisked the egg/sugar mixture in the bowl over the pan of simmering water, then popping it into the oven. The result’s apparently cloud-like, which can’t quite be a bad thing.)
(Yield: 40 pieces)
280g brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
310g plain flour
300g chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two large baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.
2. using electric beaters, beat butter, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl until light and creamy. Add eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Using a metal spoon, fold soda, sifted flour and chocolate chips into creamed mixture; mix until smooth.
4. Drop level tablespoons of mixture onto prepared trays, allowing for spreading; flatten mixture slightly. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned and cookied through. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
(The original recipe calls for 150g white chocolate chips and 150g dark chocolate chips, and I made tiny half-tablespoon cookies. Only mediocre in taste. But chocolate chip cookies aren’t quite my thing anyway.)
Rice Krispy Treats
(From the Rice Krispies website!)
Signed, sealed, and ready to be delivered.
Since valentine’s day is on a Saturday this year, I’ll be handing out my treats on Thursday. The past few years, when I used to go to an all-girls school, valentine’s day was THE day. Frantic girls scurrying around armed with roses/sunflowers/cakes/cookies/chocolates plopping bags of goodies on each other’s desks as they hurried away. Being in a co-ed school ruins all the fun. (Especially when you’re desperately waiting for some guy to give you something but he never does. That sucks.)
This year, instead of my usual cupcakes/cookies, I’ve decided to bake an assortment of sweet treats—one of which are brownies! I’m using Nigella Lawson’s recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking. (Wow. What a long title.) It’s a simple recipe that anyone could whip up in the time it takes to preheat your oven.
(Makes a maximum of 48 pieces, baked in a 33x23x5½cm tin.)
375g soft unsalted butter
375g best-quality dark chocolate
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
500g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
300g chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4). Line your brownie pan, both the sides and base, with foil, parchment or Bake-O-Glide. (Personally, I just grease it slightly with some butter and it slides out of the pan just fine.)
2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan. In a bowl or large wide-mouthed meausinrg jug, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.
3. When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then the nuts and flour. Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined pan.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes. When it’s ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey. (A cake-tester should come out slightly sticky.)
Just a few points to note, my brownies are nut-free and turn out just fine, but if you aren’t a fan of walnuts Nigella suggests substituting its weight with any other ingredient that suits your fancy. Also, if you don’t have a 33x23x5½cm tin, it’s no matter, just use whatever you’ve got that has a similar base area. Hoenstly, I just use any pan that’s lying around and use a cake-tester to check for done-ness.
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, by Dorie Greenspan. (I really want to get the other book, Desserts by Pierre Hermé, also by Dorie Greenspan.) I’ve had this book for more than a year, but this is the first time I’m actually trying a recipe out. Despite that, I must say that it’s a brilliant book, but not entirely the most late-night-baking-friendly.
(Rather shoddy piping. My big piping bag has been MIA recently. I used a 1cm star tip—what I’d usually use to pipe frosting on cupcakes.)
Viennese Chocolate Sablés
(According to the book, it makes 65 cookies. I only made half a batch and ended up with 24 cookies.)
260g all-purpose flour
30g Dutch-processed cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons lightly beaten egg whites (lightly beat 2 large egg whites, then measure out 3 tablespoons)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a medium-sized open star tip and keep it close at hand. (The tip should be crenellated, but its piping hole should be open and somewhat straight, rather than curved and tightly rounded.)
2. Whisk together the flour and cocoa and keep close at hand. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a whisk until it is light and creamy—for the recipe to be successful, the butter must be very soft. Whisk in the sugar and salt, then stir in the egg whites. Don’t be concerned when the mixture separates; it will come together when you add the dry ingredients. Gradually add the flour-cocoa and blend only until it is incorporated—you don’t want to work the mixture too much once the flour is added, a light touch is what will give these cookies their characteristic crumbliness.
3. Because the dough is thick and somewhat heavy, it’s best to work with it in batches. Spoon about one-third of the dough into the pastry bag. Pipe the dough into W-shaped cookies, each about 2 inches (5cm) long and 1¼ inches (3cm) wide, 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets. (In reality, the W is closer to the letter’s name than its look—it’s best to pipe two attached Us, so that you have a kind of wave. But don’t worry too much about this—the cookies will taste fine no matter the shape.)
4. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes—no more—or until they are set but neither browned nor hard. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature. Reapeat with the remaining dough, making sure that you don’t put the to-be-baked cookies on hot baking sheets. Before serving, you can dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar.
Being spur-of-the-moment-cookies, I tweaked the recipe quite a bit. I didn’t have all-purpose flour on hand, and substituted it with top flour. Also, I’ve been using your regular supermarket Hershey’s cocoa powder lately, since my stash of Valrhona dwindled into non-existence. (I don’t quite like Hershey’s cocoa powder ‘cause it taints everything a grey-ish brown colour, rather than deep chocolatey brown. Maybe it’s the specific type of Hershey’s cocoa powder: It reads ‘SpecialDark’. Hmm..)
These cookies aren’t too bad. Chocolatey and crumbly, like they should be—a little too chocolatey for my liking, actually, and I consider myself quite the chocolate fiend. Anyway, apparently they keep for a week stored in a tin, and freeze for about a month. Good news. I’ve sprinkled mine (a little too) liberally with confectioners’ sugar, but if you’re freezing them, I suppose they should be left as they are.