Monday, March 26, 2012

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies (Makes about 12-13 large sugar cookie cut-outs)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 cup, plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp superfine sweet rice flour
1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp potato starch
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp oat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar together in bowl of stand mixer. Add vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pulse gluten free cooking oats until they are crushed into a fine powder. Add white rice flour and sweet rice flour and process for a minute or two. Add potato starch, baking powder and salt- pulse until well combined. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients to the butter/egg/sugar mixture. Once combined, scrape dough out of bowl and form into a ball onto a large piece of saran wrap. Cover fully with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To roll out shapes:
Cut refrigerated dough into two equal halves. Place one half onto a clean counter space dusted with sweet rice flour and place the other half back into the refrigerator. Dust a rolling pin with rice flour and roll dough into an even sized oval or circle (about 1/2 inch thick). Coat cookie cutters in flour and cut shapes out of dough. Cut and lift carefully, as the dough is more crumbly than traditional sugar cookie dough. Place cut out cookies onto parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheets. These cookies spread more than my favorite "with gluten" sugar cookie recipe, so I recommend popping the baking sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes prior to baking. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until bottoms are slightly golden.

Royal Icing Recipe: Pasteurized egg whites from 2 large eggs 2 cups confectioner's sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract Using the whisk attachment for a stand mixer, beat whites and vanilla on medium speed until foamy. Reduce speed to low and add in sifted confectioner's sugar. Once all of the sugar is added, increase speed to high and beat until icing forms stiff peaks (6-7 minutes). Separate icing into as many bowls as you want colors. Color each icing as desired. Using a small round tip (wilton size 3 or 5 tip) fitted to a pastry bag, outline each cookie with the thick icing. Once all cookies are outlined, add a teaspoon of water to each bowl (and add more, if necessary) to thin the icing to "flood" the cookies. The icing should go on easily, but should not be runny. Allow cookies to dry overnight.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Eat Me" Cake and Wilton Cake Decorating Class

Part of the reason I've been kind of absent from blogging lately is because I just finished the first Wilton Cake Decorating Course. It was only one night per week, but it was three hours in the evening after work and it included us having to bake at home for class.

I had some mixed feelings about it initially, but it ended up being a really fun and useful class- especially the last two sessions. For our final project, we had to bake and frost a cake at home and bring it into class to decorate with buttercream roses, a shell border, and a written message made from piped icing.

Since my cake colors turned out bright and eclectic, I decided to pay homage to Alice in Wonderland and pipe "Eat me" onto my cake.

It's not exactly a St. Patrick's Day cake, but at least it's green!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Salted Caramel Macarons

With how long it's been since my last post, you would think that I was away from the world baking entirely for the last two weeks, but not so! I've been doing a lot of baking lately, along with taking a Wilton cake decorating class, and having a really hectic schedule at my day job.

This past weekend, I helped with a ladies brunch by making lemon and strawberry macarons and mini lemon cupcakes.

I've been trying to make as many French Macarons as possible because I know that's the only way I'll feel I've mastered them. It is a huge encouragement that I can't remember the last time a batch didn't turn out- just some minor issues with uneven sized cookies, air bubbles, and occasional texture imperfection. The great part is that even when small things are not exactly as I would want them to be, they still taste amazing and people love them.

For the Macaron Shells (makes about 34 shells)

3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
2 large egg whites, at room temperature and aged at least 24 hours
Gold gel food coloring

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine almond flour and confectioner's sugar in food processor until smooth. Whisk egg whites using stand or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Add food coloring. Sift one half almond flour mixture into egg whites and fold until almost incorporated. Add the other half of the mixture and fold until batter ribbons off of spatula.

Place batter in large pastry bag fitted with plain 1/2 inch round tip. Pipe evenly sized 1-inch circles onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.

Allow macarons to rest for at least 30 minutes prior to baking. Once you're ready to place in the oven, turn oven temperature down to 275 degrees. Bake macarons one sheet at a time for about 15 minutes until cookies are just set and no longer wiggle with touch. Once cooled, assemble with filling.

Salted Caramel Filling (by Pierre Herme, source: The Boy Who Bakes

200g Sugar

330g Whipping Cream

30g Salted Butter + 140g Softened Salted Butter

Add about 50g of sugar to a saucepan, let it melt, then add another 50g sugar. Continue three times until all 200g of sugar has been incorporated and melted.

Allow the sugar caramelize until it has turned a deep amber shade. Remove from the heat and add the 30g butter. Add the cream which will spatter and bubble and may seize up and harden but will melt in the next stage (mine did seize up, but sure enough, after a while of heating on the stove with the cream, it combined nicely). Put heat back on and continue cooking until mixture reaches 108 degrees on a candy thermometer. Set aside to cool (I put mine in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes, which helped a lot).

Beat the remaining butter for 8 to 10 minutes and then incorporate the caramel in 2 additions. Add this to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe into half of the shells and then sandwich another shell on top. Allow macarons to rest with filling at least overnight prior to eating/serving.