Category Archives: Sweets

Game of Thrones is back on HBO tonight and I. COULD. NOT. BE. MORE. EXCITED.

!!!!!!!

It’s been way too long since we last left Westeros and I have missed it a great deal. Even though I’ve read the books already and know what’s coming – maybe that’s what makes it even more exciting – I still am anxious for the premiere. I’m looking forward to one scene in particular (Fellow fans know what I’m talking about!). In celebration of this joyous occasion, I have dusted off my copy of A Feast of Ice and Fire to make Honey Biscuits!

clash of kings honey biscuits

Honey biscuits in all their glory.

Honey Biscuits are mentioned in A Clash of Kings when Lord Caswell holds a feast in Renly’s honor. This is the first time Catelyn meets Renly. Besides the Honey Biscuits, Lord Caswell serves wine-poached pears, fish, poultry, bread, turnips and other veggies, ham, venison stew, pastries, cakes, tarts, and cheese. Phew. When things get hairy later on in the series, Lord Caswell locks himself in his castle and refuses to let anyone in or out. He probably figured he was cool for the time being since he had ALL THE FOOD EVER.

a feast of ice and fire cookbook

Image via Bantam Books.

Modern Honey Biscuits adapted from A Feast of Ice and Fire by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer

Makes 16 biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raw sugar for decorating

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, and granulated sugar. Heat the butter and honey in the microwave or over a double boiler until melted. Add the honey mixture to the flour and work with a wooden spoon or spatula until a soft dough forms.

Pour the raw sugar into a small bowl. Roll the dough into 2-inch balls and coat them with raw sugar. Place eight balls onto each prepared baking sheet, without flattening them; leave room around the sides for spreading. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits are just cracked. Let them stand on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Eat the biscuits right away or store them in an airtight container for up to a week.

These cookies are delicious! They’re sweet, but not too sweet, and spicy. They are like snickerdoodles on steroids and I will be making these again for sure. You totally should, too.


My love affair with macarons began last year on a work trip to New York. I had an afternoon to myself, so I strolled through Central Park, down 5th Avenue, had a lovely lunch at Alice’s Tea Cup, and then visited Laduree. Laduree is a French luxury bakery known for making macarons for over 150 years. They started out in Paris but have a shop in Manhattan, as well as some other choice locations around the world. I had heard great things about Laduree, and being the consummate sweet tooth, I decided to pop in.

NY's Laduree shop window. Image via Ritournelle.

NY’s Laduree shop window. Image via Ritournelle.

Hoo boy. Those babies were delicious. And they come in so many flavors! My favorites were chocolate (duh), salted caramel, strawberry, vanilla, and lemon. if you’re ever in New York (or Paris), make it a point to stop in.

One interesting fact I feel the need to share: The McDonald’s in France sell macarons! A lot of the advertising liken them to hamburgers. Weird.

Anyway, my love for macarons has led me on a chase through Seattle to find any approximation of Laduree’s loveliness. While none have been quite the same, Bakery Nouveau and Le Panier have come very, very close and are still very, very delicious. My love has also led me to some pretty, frou frou macaron-inspired items that I am currently coveting for this month’s Lust Objects.

Macarons

Ooh la la!


Chocolatey, crumbly goodness. Unf.

Chocolatey, crumbly goodness. Unf.

Has a brownie ever been more famous than the Baked one? Baked NYC is a bakery in New York City (duh) that sells, among other things, what are supposed to be the most righteous brownies ever. Both Oprah and Martha Stewart are crazy about them. And some of my favorite foodies/bloggers/treat aficionados out there (America’s Test Kitchen, David Liebovitz, and the Food Network to name a few) also love the brownies. Needless to say, in my search for the perfect brownie, I had to taste one.

But I’m not in New York. So what’s a brownie-loving girl to do?

Well! It just so happened that Baked has their very own cookbook. So I ordered it online, waited patiently for Amazon to get it to me (thanks, M’s Prime Account! I only had to be patient a day or two), and made those bad boys as soon as that book was in my hot little hands.

Let me tell you: these suckers are OUTSTANDING. They are rich, gooey, and chocolate-y. M thought they were too soft and fell apart a bit too easily, and while I agree, I didn’t care too much as the brownie was already stuffed into my face and wasn’t going anywhere but in my belly.

For those of you who’ve forgotten, this is part of my quest for the ultimate brownie, or what I like to call The Brownie Face-Off. There are a few rules on which I judge brownies:

  1. Moistness – I don’t like cakey brownies. The denser, the better!
  2. Chocolatiness – Must be ultra chocolatey to win my seal of approval.
  3. Lack of coffee – SO MANY recipes call for espresso powder in their brownies. I don’t like this.
  4. Ease – I don’t want anything ridiculously hard to prepare.

I omitted number this time because I wanted to know what the supposed “best brownie ever” really tasted like. I tried it with espresso powder and it was amazing. I don’t like coffee one bit, but the powder doesn’t make the brownies taste like espresso, it just brings out the chocolate’s flavor. I was very, very wrong about espresso powder. I’m sorry, espresso powder. Forgive me?

Anyway, I rate these brownies a solid 18/20. They are definitely moist, chocolate-y, and fairly easy, but they did fall apart a bit too easily and were missing something that The Supernatural Brownies were not. Those babies were good. I should make some more….

But these are good, too! So make them if you like chocolate and are down with Oprah.

Baked Brownies

Makes 24 brownies

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

I include a photo like this every time, and it always is about the same. I just think it looks neat.

I include a photo like this every time, and it always is about the same. I just think it looks neat.

3. Melt the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder over a double boiler, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the double boiler on the stovetop. Add the sugars. Whisky until completely combined, then pour the mixture into a large bowl.

photo 1

You’re okay in my book, espresso powder.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey (THE HORROR!).

I was a rebel and added all the eggs at once.

I was a rebel and added all the eggs at once.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

Swirly.

Swirly.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.

Ready to get hot in the oven.

Ready to get hot in the oven.

7. Let the brownies cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.

Brownies!

Brownies!


So! I finally finished A Dance With Dragonsthe fifth and last published book in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R.R. Martin. I really, really, REALLY enjoyed this series and really, really, REALLY enjoyed not having to wait in between publish dates to excitedly start the next book in the series. And now I have to wait until, supposedly, some time next year for The Winds of Winter (the sixth book) to come out. Hurry up, GRRM!

We know, Sansa. We know. Image via Tumblr.

We know, Sansa. We know. Image via Tumblr.

Tonight is also the season finale of Game of Thrones, the TV adaptation of the book series. After last week’s Red Wedding episode, I’m really hoping something awesome will happen tonight (having to do with Joffrey, ahem), but I’m guessing they’ll wait until next season for that very special episode.

In celebration of finishing the books and tonight’s episode, I have prepared lemon cakes from the cookbook A Feast of Ice and Firegifted to me by my fantastic friend Adam. In the books, GRRM goes into great detail describing food – some sound amazing and others… not. The talented ladies from the popular blog The Inn at the Crossroads created this lovely cookbook of the yummy snacks and meals written about in the series. M is still finishing ADWD, and when he does I am planning on making a whole ASOIAF-themed meal, but until then, I decided on these treats. One of the characters in the book, Sansa, is pretty obsessed with lemon cakes. She gets all hot and bothered whenever they’re mentioned. And with good reason, too, apparently, they are DELICIOUS. Not too sweet (unless you put the glaze on them, which I did for about half of them), they are mildly lemony and zesty. They aren’t really cake-like, either – definitely more of a chewy cookie.

Lemon Cakes

Lemon Cakes

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes adapted from A Feast of Ice and Fire

Makes 24 cookies

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Grated zest from 2 lemons

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a large baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and granulated sugar. Cut in the butter, then add the zest and whole egg and yolks. Mix thoroughly until the dough is no longer sticky and can easily be shaped by hand.

3. Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch across and place them on the prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, giving them room to spread as they bake.

4. Bake for 15 minutes until the tops of just slightly golden. Allow the cakes to cool for a minute before moving them to a cooling rack.

5. Mix the powdered sugar and milk to a smooth consistency. Once the cakes have cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cookies.

Naked lemons... You might say I flayed them.

Naked lemons… You might say I flayed them.


Earlier this month our good friend Adam came for a visit. We spent the majority of our time at Emerald City Comic-Con and ate way too much food, but we also experimented with some unique red velvet recipes: Red Velvet Creme Brûlée and Red Velvet Milkshakes.

The milkshakes were only okay. They involve chocolate ice cream and red velvet cake mix, and that’s really all it tasted like. I did enjoy having an excuse to use my Vitamix, though, and show Adam how amazing it is in person.

The creme brûlée, however, was amazing. Since Adam was leaving for the airport  in a few hours, I couldn’t do the proper thing and let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours and then let it sit before serving. I instead put it in the freezer for 20 minutes and then we ate it right away. It was cold, but it was super tasty. When I have more time I shall make it properly. And eat it all myself instead of sharing because that’s how I do things when it comes to red velvet.

Red Velvet Creme Brûlée

Recipe via Sweet Peony

Makes 2 servings

1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus more for topping
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
2 – 3 drops red food coloring
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Set aside.
Chopping some chocolate.

Chopping some chocolate.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the remaining tablespoon of sugar, heavy cream, buttermilk, and split vanilla bean to a simmer. Once the mixture starts to get foamy, remove from heat. Take out the vanilla bean halves and scrape out the seeds, adding the seeds back to the mixture. Pour the mixture over the chopped chocolate and let sit for a minute. Gently stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
Playing with vanilla bean.

Playing with vanilla bean.

4. Slowly pour half of the chocolate mixture into the eggs while whisking. Continue to whisk, and slowly pour in the remaining chocolate mixture.
5. Add 2 drops of red food coloring and whisk. Add another drop if needed.
6. Strain the custard into a spouted measuring cup. Evenly divide the custard between two ramekins.
7. Place the ramekins into a baking dish. Pour boiling water into the baking dish until the water comes up to about the custard level.
8. Bake 25 – 60 minutes, depending on the size of the ramekin, or until the custard is set (it should still be jiggly in the center). Remove the baking dish from the oven and let the ramekins cool in the water bath.
9. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours.
10. Once chilled, sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on the top of each custard. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. Let sit about 5 minutes before serving.
Blow torchin' shit like I own the place.

Blow torchin’ shit like I own the place.

Red Velvet Milkshakes

Recipe via The Little Kitchen

Makes 2 servings

1 cup milk
15 – 18 drops red food coloring
1/2 tablespoon chocolate syrup
4 – 5 scoops chocolate ice cream
4 tablespoons red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1. In a measuring cup, mix milk and red food coloring together thoroughly. Add chocolate syrup and whisk. Add ice cream and milk chocolate mixture into a blender along with the cake mix.
Pouring milk all casual-like.

Pouring milk all casual-like.

2. Pulse or use milkshake setting on your blender. Serve immediately.

Not as tasty as this face is making it look.

Not as tasty as this face is making it look.

Not worth the waste of delicious chocolate ice cream, if you ask me.


M’s and my dear friend, Adam, is coming to visit us on the 1st. We’re planning on going to Emerald City Comic-Con, among other things, and having way too much fun. Part of this way-too-much-fun will involve Red Velvet Cake.

I am ridiculously obsessed and in love with RVC. It’s delicious, unique, and AMAZING. Adam is also a big fan of RVC and we’ve decided that during his trip here, we’ll bake something RVC-related, as RVC is obviously the best cake ever and stuff, but we’re feeling a bit adventurous. I’ve been scouring the internet for unique recipes, and have come up with the following. Which should we try?

Red Velvet Funnel Cakes via Celebrations.com

Red Velvet Funnel Cakes via Celebrations.com

Red Velvet Cake Batter Milkshakes via The Little Kitchen

Red Velvet Cake Batter Milkshakes via The Little Kitchen

Red Velvet Biscotti via Cookie Madness

Red Velvet Biscotti via Cookie Madness

Red Velvet Rice Crispy Treats via Lovin' From The Oven

Red Velvet Rice Crispy Treats via Lovin’ From The Oven

Red Velvet Hot Cocoa with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream via Une Deux Senses

Red Velvet Hot Cocoa with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream via Une Deux Senses

Red Velvet Macarons with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling via The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen

Red Velvet Macarons with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling via The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen

Red Velvet Scones via Something Swanky

Red Velvet Scones via Something Swanky

Red Velvet Pull-Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze via Willow Bird Baking

Red Velvet Pull-Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze via Willow Bird Baking

Red Velvet Creme Brulee via Sweet Peony

Red Velvet Creme Brulee via Sweet Peony

Red Velvet Pudding Pie via Completely Delicious

Red Velvet Pudding Pie via Completely Delicious

Red Velvet Bread Pudding via Taste and Tell

Red Velvet Bread Pudding via Taste and Tell

Red Velvet Souffles with Whipped Sour Cream via MyRecipes.com

Red Velvet Souffles with Whipped Sour Cream via MyRecipes.com

Red Velvet Fudge via I Am Baker

Red Velvet Fudge via I Am Baker

Marbled Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies via The Novice Chef

Marbled Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies via The Novice Chef

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go mop up my drool.


Every year for Christmas I make my close friends and extended family a bunch of cookies. It is a long process, but one I love doing (I think my family and friends appreciate it, too!). I typically make 3 – 4 cookies and peppermint bark. I like to keep which cookies I’m making a surprise, but thought I’d share one of them on my blog, as well as the recipe!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an avid Pinterest fan. I collect thousands upon thousands of recipes, all with the intention of making everything someday. I found this recipe for Caramel Apple Cider cookies on Pinterest and simply could not resist!

The cookies are AMAZEBALLS. The batter is super good, too… or so I’ve heard. I wouldn’t do something so disgusting as to taste uncooked cookie batter. Never.

Image

Image via The Cooking Photographer

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies (adapted from The Cooking Photographer)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (7.4 oz) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix (10 packets)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 (14 oz) bag Kraft chewy caramels

  • Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (not cooking spray or the caramel might stick to the bottom of your cookie sheet).
  • In a small bowl, whisky together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. I used a little extra cinnamon because it is my favorite spice. Cinnamon is the best and, in my opinion, way overrated. See Jerry Seinfeld’s comments for further explanation: “Cinnamon takes a backseat to no babka!”
  • With an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.
mixer

A dizzying shot of my beloved KitchenAid Mixer in action.

  • Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  • Add vanilla and mix well.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  • Scoop out tennis ball-sized cookie dough balls.
  • Flatten the ball of dough a bit. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of the dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely.
caramels

Unwrapping all the caramels will take some time. I sat and watched Dexter while unwrapping mine… Because nothing says Christmas joy like serial killing!

  • Shape the dough in a ball, and place on parchment covered cookie sheets about 3 inches apart (these babies spread).
  • Bake 11 – 14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. They may not look quite done in the center, but that’s okay.
  • Allow cookies to cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off the parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down on the parchment or on a cookie rack.

Makes around 2 – 3 dozen cookies. The directions say to eat at room temperature or slightly warmed up in the microwave. The latter method is way better, as it leaves the caramel all soft and melty.

Just don’t do what I did and leave it in the microwave too long or eat a cookie right out of the oven and burn your tongue.

Happy baking!