LET’S GET SPOOKY!

I realize Halloween will not be the same this year, and that  makes me sad. But it is impossible to resist baking all kinds of spooky things, and with this post I share six options for your socially-distant Halloween celebration.

All macarons were filled with a chocolate ganache, but in the Devil and Mummy macs the ganache was made by steeping the cream with smoked tea. Bat Cookies are a hazelnut-almond dough, and the others are regular sugar cookies.

DEVIL MACARONS

I used my default recipe which you can find here (and also a video tutorial in case you’d like to bake along with me). The idea of the decoration came from a brand new cookbook (The Wicked Baker) by one of the most fascinating contestants of the Great British Bake Off, the one and only Helena Garcia. She used a similar decoration for donuts, but I adapted it for macarons. The ears were made with Royal Icing dyed black, and piped on parchment paper in the appropriate format. Make more ears than you’ll need, as they break easily.  The same Royal Icing was used to pipe the devilish tail. Once you assemble the shells with the filling, quickly add the ears, while the ganache is still soft.

Recipe for the smoked chocolate ganache:
150g heavy cream (you won’t use the full amount in the ganache)
1 bag smoked black tea (Lapsang Souchong)
2 tsp corn syrup
230g semi-sweet chocolate in pieces

Start by making the filling, as it must cool down before using. Bring the heavy cream to a gentle boil, add the tea bag. Turn the heat off, close the pan and leave the tea infusing for 30 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag and remove it. Bring the cream to a gentle boil again, then pour 115g of it over the chocolate. Leave it for 5 minutes, gently whisk until smooth, add the corn syrup. Cool it until it gets to a good consistency for piping on the shells.

MUMMY MACARONS

Also made with my default recipe, and filled with Smoked Chocolate Ganache. Once the shells are assembled, simply use white Candy Melts to make a random drizzle on the surface, and quickly add store-bought candy eyes (from Wilton).

Those were made in fact two years ago, and I totally forgot to blog about them. Back then, there was a thing called “Halloween Party” with guests and all (sigh). Bogey approved the macs, but was a bit spooked by a special version I made at the time.

Isn’t that pup the most adorable being in the universe? Noticed the paw?

 

SPIDER MACARONS

The shells were made with a new (to me) recipe. I used the Swiss meringue method, in a version that is super easy to memorize: 100g of every ingredient. All details in this recent post from Broma Bakery. I really like the way the shells baked with tall feet, and I did not even passed the almond flour + powdered sugar through the food processor, which made the whole process even simpler.

I loved making the spider decorations. I used marzipan dyed black, and then formed the head and the body of the little spiders, glueing them to the shells with candy melts. A little food-safe black pen to make the spider legs, and that was it! If you prefer less marzipan on the shells, roll the marzipan thin, and cut circles, one bigger for the body, one smaller for the head. It will have a similar look, but for those who are not wild about marzipan, even better to enjoy!

Chocolate Ganache Filling

100 g heavy cream
220g dark chocolate, chopped finely (I used Lindt 70%)
15 g butter
15 g honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Gently melt the chocolate with the butter in a double-boiler or microwave at 50% power. Set aside.

Pour the cream together with the honey and vanilla into a small saucepan and place over medium heat until it reaches almost boiling point. Pour slowly over the chocolate-butter mixture, mix until homogenized.  Keep at room temperature for about 3 hours before using to fill the shells. You can make also make it the day before.

BAT COOKIES

Another decoration idea from The Wicked Baker, Helena’s cookbook. She used sugar cookies, I went with a slightly different recipe for the cookie base.

HAZELNUT-ALMOND CUT-OUT COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

188g butter at room temperature, cut in small cubes
78g powdered sugar
63g eggs
250g all-purpose flour
42g ground hazelnuts
42g ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt

In a Kitchen Aid type mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter with powdered sugar until soft and smooth. Gradually add the eggs, and keep beating until fully emulsified.

Add the flour, hazelnuts, almonds and salt, mixing gently to a homogeneous mixture. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, pat as a disc and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Roll out and cut in any shape you like. Freeze the cut cookies for 10 minutes before baking at 350F for about 12 minutes, until edges start to get a little color. Decorate with Royal Icing or serve plain, they are delicious even without decorations.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

A little Royal Icing, sprinkles, and food pen to finalize the bat-look…  Very simple to decorate, and the hazelnut-almond base really adds a lot to the cookie.

SPOOKY SUGAR COOKIES

I love using these cookie cutters that make the design for you, because I’m not that good at piping fancy designs (I am working on it, but well, you know how it goes). For the houses, I wanted a “granite” look, and it was easy to do with food gel diluted with a bit of vodka (or lemon extract). You need to eye-ball the dilution factor, so that the color is a little faded and does not cover the surface of the cookie completely. I used purple and dark blue from Artisan Accents, and completed the decoration with Royal Icing dyed orange or black.

For the sugar cookie basic recipe, I followed Bakeat350 to a T. I love that you don’t need to refrigerate the dough before rolling it out. All recipes I’ve tried from that site worked wonderfully, and I’ve tried plenty, as every week I include a small batch of sugar cookies in my donations to Common Table.

FRIENDLY GHOST MACARONS

I used my default recipe for these, and the same chocolate ganache used for the Spider Macs, posted above.  All you need is a template to pipe your little ghosts, and to make sure the macaron batter is not too thin, stop shorter in the macaronage, so that when you pipe the design it stays as it is.  There are many templates available in the net, I used this one. The only issue I had with these macs is the slight browning in the oven. It is pretty tricky to keep the white color unchanged. In a batch I made earlier, I painted some pearl dust all over the surface, but it used up so much pearl dust, I am not sure it was worth it.

For more recipes to inspire you, click on this link from last year. Amazing how we had no idea how much our world would be changed 365 days later.

ONE YEAR AGO: Miso and Sesame Roast Chicken with Revelation Quinoa

TWO YEAR AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four

THREE YEARS AGO: Parsnip, Coconut and Lemongrass Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

FIVE YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Bourbon and Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin

NINE YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

TEN YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

TURKEY-PUMPKIN ROULADE WITH CIDER SAUCE AND MILLET PILAF

This was one delicious meal, even if I say so myself. I had never cooked turkey breasts, for some reason they’ve always intimidated me. Huge, and with that look of “I am going to be very dry and tough.” But sous-vide has a way to mellow any tough creature into perfection. If you don’t have a sous-vide, you can still make this recipe, just read my comments for changes.

TURKEY-PUMPKIN ROULADE WITH CIDER SAUCE AND CARROT-MILLET PILAF
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 boneless, skinless turkey breasts
Salt Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
2 tablespoons crumbled sage,
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup + 1/2 chicken broth, divided
¼ cup apple cider
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons flour

Heat the water bath to 148F.  Pound both breasts to about ¼ inch thick. Season well with salt and pepper. Make the filling by mixing the pumpkin, pecans, sage and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Spread half the filling on each breast, then roll up each breast jelly-roll style, starting at the narrow end. Keep the roll tight with kitchen’s twine.   Place each breast in a heat-safe bag, and pour 1/4 cup chicken broth + 1/8 cup apple cider in each bag.  Close by water displacement.  Cook in the water bath for 3 hours.

Remove the roulades from the bag, reserving the cooking liquid or one of the bags (discard the liquid from the other bag). Place the roulades on a paper towel–lined plate and pat dry.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a non-stick skillet and brown the roulades quickly on all sides. Cut the kitchen twine and place them on a platter covered with foil as you reduce the sauce.

Add one more tablespoon of flour to the skillet, and cook the flour on it for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock and the reserved cooking liquid from one of the bags. Simmer gently until reduced, about 5 minutes. Season with more salt and a little pepper, cut the turkey in slices and serve with the sauce.

CARROT-MILLET PILAF

1 cup millet, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, dividied
salt and pepper
3 carrots, peeled, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup slivered almonds
smoked paprika to taste

Start by roasting the carrots. Heat oven to 420F. Drizzle the carrots with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Place on a small baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes, then add the almonds and roast for 5 minutes longer, mixing them well with the carrots. Reserve.

Cook the millet. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the millet and cook on high-heat, toasting well, for a couple of minutes. Add 2 cups of water, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until water is absorbed and grains are cooked.  Immediately fluff it with a fork, add the carrots and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipes, click here  

Comments: If you don’t have a sous-vide, the process is pretty much reversed. You start by browning the roulades in olive oil, then add chicken stock and cider to the pan, close it and simmer away until done to your liking. Or use your crockpot, or the pressure cooker, following the timings recommended for this type of preparation.

The millet was also delicious with it, and leftovers re-heated quite well for two more meals. This whole dinner would be perfect for a Thanksgiving for two, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of roasting a whole bird and then facing leftovers until Valentine’s Day say hello…

ONE YEAR AGO: Strawberry-Vanilla Mini-Cakes

TWO YEAR AGO: Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pea Pesto

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Naturally Sweet

FOUR YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

NINE YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

TEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

 

 

 

 

IN MY KITCHEN, OCTOBER 2020


It is that time of the year… I invite my readers for a walk around our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts started many years ago with Celia and is now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. The idea is to share whatever you feel like. New gadgets, new ingredients, new cookbooks. Perhaps a few kitchen boo-boos (read on). Make sure to visit Sherry’s site, so you can check what is happening in kitchens all over the world.  And, if you are a food blogger, why not join this virtual fun? I’d love to see what’s happening in your kitchen too…

In our kitchen….

I never get tired of these Japanese fermented drinks! In fact, they transport  me straight to my childhood in Brazil. They were sold door to door by beautiful Japanese women carrying them in some type of insulated bag, and my Mom used to buy enough to last us until the next visit. Not very easy with me around. For decades I lost track of Yakult, but a few years ago our main grocery store in town started to sell them. And the best part is that I “converted” Phil into a Yakult-lover too.

In our kitchen….

My new tea-passion (it seems I keep finding teas to fall in love with on a regular basis). I’ve always known and enjoyed the regular type, red rooibos, but my friend Heather gave me the heads up on the green version which is not roasted. Oh, my! The flavor! It is so subtle and mellow, I highly recommend you try it if you just know the more common type.

In our kitchen…


Speaking of tea, I got a little Japanese tea cup that I found online. However, although I love the pattern, it is a bit too small, so I will use it instead to serve nuts and crackers.  But it is so whimsical, I intend to somehow mimic the pattern in a certain cookie made with almond flour and meringue. Can you guess which?

In our kitchen….

A few cookie cutters, the spider web is pretty cute, makes it a lot easier to decorate a spooky sugar cookie. The triangular coupled with mini-cookie cutters came in pretty handy to make some chocolate sandwich cookies that at some point shall be blogged about. I share a little sneak preview of both cookies…

In our kitchen…

I cannot believe that it took me years to figure out that a huge container for powdered sugar is the best way to deal with it. It holds several bags, and makes life so much easier!

In our kitchen….


This is my favorite light brown sugar, straight from the UK, but I found at amazon for a pretty good price, and of course, could not resist ordering some.

In our kitchen….

Fondant mats, also work great for marzipan, as you can see in the little lemon cupcake at the center.  You simply roll the marzipan on top of the mat and gently pull it with the nice impression formed on it.  Etsy is a great place to find them, although the first one is from Nycake.com. and to be honest, their stuff is a bit pricey. But very high quality.

In our kitchen….


This is the labor of my beloved husband to his braces-wearing wife. Every time he cooks corn on the cob, he shaves the kernels off for me, season with salt, pepper, and lime, the way I like it…  And it just melts my heart.  It is still a bit of an ordeal to brush the teeth later, but totally worth it.  You guys have no idea how much I miss eating corn on the cob with gusto.

In our kitchen….

Springerle molds, which are slowly turning into an obsession of mine. It is the type of baking that brings me peace and serenity. Some molds work better than others, and I am still figuring things out in terms of dough recipes, flavors, decorations.

In our kitchen….

A new runner rug, as the old one got all stained and ugly as the years went by.  I love the colors, and some of the flowers  will definitely inspire cookie decorations…

In our kitchen….

Speaking of cookie decorations… Painted Macarons… Yes, I know there is room for improvement, but I still have a lot of fun channeling my inner Monet.  Painting cookies, oddly enough, relaxes me. I don’t think about politics, I don’t think about Covid, I get into a soothing Zen-mode instead.

In our kitchen…

A work in progress… my first attempt at hand-dipped bonbons, these are filled with pistachio and strawberry, but I had issues with the decoration. They were supposed to be decorated with two circles, one red, one green, but I was barely able to add one ring in some. I ended up using transfer sheets for many of them instead, the famous Plan B. I am gathering my strength to try again, it is quite a bit of work, but also a ton of fun!

In our kitchen…

A truly spectacular cinnamon raisin bread, which was part of a bake-along organized by my friends Caroline and Robyn, associated with a Facegroup Fan Page for the Great British Bake Off. If you want to see a very detailed tutorial to bake it, click here.  I made half the recipe for one loaf only.

Speaking of Caroline….

In our kitchen….

The clash between dream and reality….

This fun picture was a gift from my friend Caroline, who runs a fantastic baking blog that I urge you to visit (click here). Her son made this composite shot, with the mixer of my dreams, a beauty I saw face to face (rather… face to machine) in London last year (for a picture of the real meeting, go to last year’s IMK).  Yes, allow me to dream…

Because reality is quite a bit harsher as far as mixers are concerned….


Bread dough was happening. As I added a bit more flour with the machine still running, the hook hit the measuring cup, catapulting it up and… well, the picture is worth a thousand words.  It did not bring me joy.

And do you want to know what else did not bring me joy?

My favorite flour scoop, that I’ve had for years and years, somehow found its way to Buck’s bed, and again, the rest is history.  I’ve been searching for one like it, so far, no luck. If anybody knows where to get it, please leave me a comment.

And along the non-joy movement…. (RESPECT: something I seem unable to obtain in the sanctity of my own home)

Well, I guess the pups made their way into my post, once again. Come to think of it, this round up of In My Kitchen did not start with gifts, as I did not get any lately. Proving that the pups are way more popular than the food blogger, they got a gift in the mail, from my friend Jennifer…. Thank you, Jennifer!!!!

Life in pandemic times seem to suit them well. They are rarely outside, and “vacations” at the kennel are now nothing but a distant memory. Their main concern? Protect their humans and their property.

They will take breaks from snoring away anytime their help in the kitchen is needed.’

And are always happy to bond with one of their favorite humans…


So much sleeping and hanging around the house gets Buck a bit worried about his waistline, so he decided to drop us some hints….

Which prompted me to take him for walks, where love at first sight was waiting just a few houses down the street….

That female Jack Russell is a firecracker indeed!  She is just one year old, and patrols her front yard like nobody’s business… barks, barks, and runs around the tree in circles (they keep a long leash tied to the tree).  But that day, they both froze, staring at each other as if struck by Cupid’s arrow.  It was very sweet to witness…

Unfortunately, his sex appeal is a bit diminished after he and Oscar got into a little fight. Not over the attention of a female pup, but over an EMPTY food bowl that Oscar decided to protect as if it contained medium-rare T-bone steak. Go figure that one out. He is fully recovered by now, just a small scar and a bald spot where the cut was.

What can I say? Oscar is a special boy…

With very odd ways to get comfortable around the house. This is by far his new favorite spot now, wedged in between the leg of an armchair and the leg of the table. It hurts my ribs to look at it.

If you remember from my last In My Kitchen, Phil worked hard to build us a little outside patio, and I am thrilled to inform that the project is finished and was a total success!  Every evening we have a cup of tea together sitting outside. We are thinking of getting one of those stand up propane heaters so we can still enjoy our patio as the weather gets colder (sigh).

So that’s all for now, folks. I hope you liked this little tour around the Bewitching Kitchen… see you for another one on the first day of 2021!  And may 2021 be A LOT better than 2020. Right? Right?

 

 

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen (and Beyond), October 2019

TWO YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2018

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2017

FOUR YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

FIVE YEARS AGO: Coxinha de Galinha: A Brazilian Delicacy

SIX YEARS AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

SEVEN YEARS AGO: A Simple Dinner

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

NINE YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

TEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

 

DUTCH MACARONS, AND WILLIAM CURLEY’S NOSTALGIC DELIGHTS

If you are a follower of my blog, you know I suffer from a macaron condition. Cannot stop baking them, and when I go into daydreaming mode, macarons flavors and colors are often part of it. One day, I was relaxing in my favorite armchair with a beautiful cookbook (Nostalgic Delights), when all of a sudden a recipe popped up… Dutch Macarons. Cute beyond description. They look like a macaron gone a bit wild, feet not as well-defined, instead their shells open on the top, revealing a similar inner structure. I could not wait to bake a batch. If you are afraid of baking macarons, these are in many ways easier. No macaronage stage to worry about, you mix the batter, pipe, and then exercise patience. They must dry for 12 hours before baking, which is a major difference. The outer skin has to be really dry, so that it can be cut with a sharp knife (I used a brand new razor blade) right before they go into the oven. That gives them the characteristic opening. I share this unusual recipe after getting permission from Chef William Curley. He is not only a fantastic patissier, but a very sweet person who patiently answered some annoying pressing baking questions I had for him. He owns a shop in Soho, so if you are in London, pay him a visit. I am kicking myself for not doing that last year when I was busy upsetting Paul Hollywood. Bottomline is: I must go back. I meant to Soho, not the tent.

DUTCH MACARONS
(printed with permission from William Curley)

for the shells:
175g powdered sugar, sifted, and divided (125g + 50g)
125g ground almonds, sifted
75g egg whites
50g superfine granulated sugar
20mL water

for praline paste:
100g hazelnuts
100g almonds
200g sugar
1 tsp hazelnut oil (I used grape seed)

for the praline ganache:
150g heavy cream
125g bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt 70%), chopped in small pieces
12g butter, softened
40g almond praline paste

Ideally the day before, make the praline paste (you will make more than you need, but it keeps well). Heat the oven to 400F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a heavy-bottom saucepan.

Cook over medium heat while gradually adding the sugar and stirring non-stop. Cook until the sugar turns into a caramel, it will take from 15 to 18 minutes. Pour the mixture over a baking sheet and allow it to cool. When the nuts are cold, place in a food processor or Vitamix and blend until it forms a paste, adding the teaspoon of oil to help emulsify.

Prepare the ganache: put the cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Put the chocolate in a mixing bowl and add the hot cream over it. Mix until emulsified, add the softened butter and the praline paste. Leave to set at room temperature for 2 hours, when it will reach a nice piping consistency.

Make the shells: Place 125g of the powdered sugar, the ground almonds and the egg whites in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid type mixer, and whisk for a minute or so, as  you start preparing the syrup.

Make a syrup with the granulated sugar and water, cooking it to 240F (116C), then pour the syrup over the mixture in the KitchenAid bowl while it is whisking at medium speed.  Beat for 5 minutes, then add the remaining 50g or powdered sugar.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 10mm round piping tip, and pie ovals of 3/4 inch x 1+1/4 inch.  I made a little template to help me with consistency. Leave in a cool, dry area for about 12 hours to fully dry the macarons.

Heat the oven to 350F. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit in the center of each macaron, then bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until they have puffed up and turned golden. Allow them to get fully cool.

Spread ganache on one shell, top with another of similar size (hopefully they will all be very similar in dimension), leave to set for 30 minutes so that the ganache sets.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: This was a super fun and exciting bake for me, because the recipe was familiar and unusual at the same time.  I was in mild hyperventilation mode up to the moment I opened the oven and marveled at those cute babies all plump and ready for the filling. Speaking of the filling, it is pretty spectacular:  almond/hazelnut praline with chocolate. Need I say more? Addictive, truly.

As to the taste, they are indeed very similar to macarons, but with more substance, let’s say that in a regular macaron the filling definitely speaks louder than the shells. In the Dutch version, they share center stage as equal partners. I loved the texture.  They reminded me of a sweet I used to enjoy as a child in Brazil called “AMANDITAS.” Interestingly enough, you can still buy those  which proves I am not that old. HA! The filling in amanditas is harder, but there is a resemblance there for sure.  I can tell you I’ll be making Dutch Macarons on a regular basis from now on.

TEASER RECIPE

Before I take you for a virtual tour of Chef Curley’s book, let me show you another recipe I made from it. These are called Rout Biscuits (I laugh inside imagining how badly I butcher its pronunciation). Just like Dutch Macarons, it is a recipe from a couple of centuries ago, and rarely seen these days. William Curley brings it back to life adding quite a few touches of elegance. A delicate hazelnut-almond biscuit base holds a hazelnut cream piped in a circle, and after baking, a dollop of jam is added to the center. I loved it so much that I made it twice in the same weekend.  The second time around I used a bit of orange-chocolate ganache in the center instead of jam.

I took both batches to our department for my “Mondays with Sweetness”, and people were raving about them. Delicate, delicious, beautiful, just the right size… were some of the comments I got back. The biscuit base is wonderful on its own. I will share soon some cookies I made with that dough.

And now, time to review Nostalgic Delights….


 

First of all, I adore the name… Nostalgic Delights gives me a nice warm feeling inside, anticipating beautiful bakes of the past. And here’s what William himself has to say about it:

“The definition of nostalgia is – a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past”.  Every individual has their own interpretation of nostalgia, and of course their own fond memories of food. I hope that within the recipes I have created for this book there is going to be a little something enabling every reader to capture their own bit of nostalgia” 

Isn’t that beautiful? The book is just a complete delight (pun intended), and it was written with passion not only for the art of baking but for teaching it even to those of us without professional training.

The book is divided in 7 chapters, as follows…

Chocolate Confectionery… Being an award-winning chocolatier, you can expect that his recipes in this chapter will take your breath away. It starts with a nice explanation on tempering, casting in moulds and dipping, which you will need to be comfortable with. The chapter opens with his Hazelnut Rochers, the recipe at the very cover of the book. His mother used to serve those at Christmas. Talk about nostalgia! He shared step by step photos of the process of making this beauty, which one day I shall take a deep breath and tackle myself.  I have to say that every single recipe in this chapter had me dreaming. He starts from simple recipes (like Australian Cartwheels, popular in the 1940’s) and turns them into morsels of chocolate-coated art. His Matcha and Yuzu Teacakes are definitely something I will bake in the near future. But truly everything is just amazing and every recipe has detailed photos of the whole process so that even common mortals can attempt them. He closes this chapter with the really fun Curley Wurly, a 1970 classic made in a Bournville factory in an attempt to use leftover toffee. It is basically a braided toffee coated in tempered chocolate, and I tell you, the day I get rid of my braces I will celebrate indulging in a full batch. Mine, all mine.

Bakery Favorites… The chapter starts with tips for lining tins with pastry, blind baking, working with yeast, and rough puff pastry. Then he shares bakes in which these techniques are employed.  His Chocolate Cherry Bakewells are just gorgeous, but you don’t have to take my word for it, here is a shot of that page. I am also quite smitten by the Marignons, because the basic component is a savarin, which intrigues me. I need to try and make it.

In this chapter, the classic Jam Tarts, Custard Tarts which most people are familiar with, but also some interesting bakes like one called Black Bun, a Scottish concoction to be enjoyed on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, much like Galette de Rois in France. Have you heard of Bee Sting? It is a German dessert with a ton of history behind it, and William shares his version, based on a recipe from the 15th century!  I cannot tell you how much I love this type of stuff….

Patisserie Modern Classics… The introduction covers mousses, and I go immediately weak in the knees. This might very well be my favorite chapter.  It starts with my most beloved type of dessert, a mini entremet type cake, this one called Tropical Snowball. If that does not have my name all over it, I don’t know what does. Mango, Passion Fruit and Coconut with a snowy white mirror glaze.  In this chapter he does exactly what you expect, bakes the classics but all with a modernized twist. Black Forest Gateau, Charlotte Russe, Charlotte Royale, a Blackcurrant Cheesecake that is beyond showstopper lavel, a Chestnut Roll equally stunning, the most elegant presentation you can dream for Strawberry Shortcakes… Jaffa Cake Tarts, and a dessert I’ve been meaning to bake for a while now, Pont Neuf, designed in 1860’s to celebrate my favorite bridge in Paris (I am hopelessly romantic).

Ice Cream and Gateau…As William put it, desserts involving frozen components are always decadent, and associated with banquets and real fancy occasions, but they have gone out of fashion. In part because they do demand a lot of skill and attention to detail. Come to think of it, some of the most epic disasters in the Great British Bake Off involved frozen desserts. The initial tutorial in the chapter brings Ice Cream Anglaise and fruit sorbet. He starts with a bang, of course… Baked Alaska, in a Neapolitan fashion. Then Viennetta, his version is yet another masterpiece. Many wonderful things to try, but I would probably settle for his Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream. Prune and Armagnac was one of my favorite little desserts to order when we lived in Paris. So simple, and so delicious.

Afternoon Treats… The inspiration for this chapter was his Grandma, who taught him to bake and was the reason why he became a chef. In his words: “Even with all the decadence and luxury within my industry, you can’t beat a freshly baked homemade cake for a tasty afternoon treat”. I would gladly bake every single item of this chapter. I am totally fascinated by a trio of cakes called “Othellos, Desdemonas & Iagos”.  They are a combination of sponge cake, custard, and fondant, what changes is the main flavor, Othellos are chocolate, Desdemonas are vanilla, and Iagos are coffee. I will take one of each, please and thank you. Rout Biscuits are in this chapter, Empire Biscuits (OMG they are adorable!), and the Dutch Macarons I shared the recipe with you.

Frivolities… These are those little petit-fours that fancy restaurants might bring you at the end of a meal. One adorable bake after another, I am definitely going to make his Allumettes a concoction made in Brittany in the last century. Allumettes mean matchsticks and his version joins almond praline and chocolate. Rocher Noix de Coco, Turkish Delight, Nougat and Marshmallow are all in this chapter, as well as something new to me, a concoction called Mou, a soft caramel that can be flavored in many different ways. Another delicious treat that was designed in Brittany. Those people know a thing or two about sweets, right?

Basics… The final chapter. It is pretty much a big lesson on patisserie, covering all the basic recipes you might need, from pate sablee to filo pastry, the three types of meringue, creme patissiere and its derivatives, frangipane, curds, glazes, icings, and even how to make chocolate decorations.

That’s it, my friends! I cannot praise the book highly enough. The amount of work that went into making Nostalgic Delights is hard to imagine. Many of the recipes have step by step photos, in addition to the finished product. Chef Curley truly wants you to succeed and bake at home the wonderful things that bring him joy. The book gives me peace, I think it does transports me to past times, in which life was far less complicated and stressful than it seems to be today.

Mr. Curley, thank you so much for allowing me to share the recipe for Dutch Macarons with my readers, and for your patience helping me figure out a few issues here and there in my Bewitching Kitchen.

To order the book, click here (I make no profit from your purchase)

ONE YEAR AGO: Yogurt Tart

TWO YEAR AGO: Grilled Lamb-Stuffed Pita Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Elderflower Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Duet of Sorbets

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

SIX YEARS AGO: Spiralizer Fun

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Secret Recipe Club: Corn Chowda

NINE YEARS AGO: Page-A-Day Calendar (Pits and Chief 5 minutes of fame…)

TEN YEARS AGO: Home Sweet Home (our beloved Pits in one of his last photos)

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Marbled Rye

ROCKING THE ZUCCHINI BOAT

This recipe is perfect to put those very large zucchini to use. Maybe they grew a couple of days too long in your backyard, or they were sitting neglected at the grocery store (size-shaming is a cruel thing in the Cucurbitaceae world). For this recipe, a delicate, small creature just won’t be as good.


MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE ZUCCHINI BOATS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Foodie Crush)

3 large zucchini (yes, LARGE)
3 fresh sausage links of your choice (I used chicken/apple)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, to taste (probably 1/3 cup or so)
kalamata olives, pitted, coarsely chopped, to taste (another 1/3 cup or so)
1 to 2 tablespoons capers
fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, coarsely chop, and reserve.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and the sausages (remove them from the casing, and crumble) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces.  Add the reserved chopped zucchini pulp and cook until the meat is cooked and the zucchini tender. Season with salt and pepper.

At this point, you have two options, keep it coarse the way it is, or run it BRIEFLY in a food processor. I decided to do this extra step  because I wanted a smoother texture to fill the zucchini, but I admit it is a bit of a hassle. Skip this step if you are in a hurry, the dish will be a little more rustic, but nothing wrong with it.

Whatever you decide to do, stir in the mixture the egg, almond flour, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, basil and almost all the cheese. Reserve some to sprinkle on top. Spoon the stuffing into the zucchini boats and place in a suitable baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you do the food processor step, it will be a two to three pulses kind of thing. You will be asking yourself… did I really dirty my food processor for just these three little pulses? Yes, you did. But that brief encounter with the blades makes the texture super nice, and in my opinion, worth the trouble.

Quite often when you see recipes for stuffed vegetables, they involve a dense blanket of melted cheese covering everything. Not the case here. The cheese is a minor component in the mixture and a sprinkle on top. I imagine that a vegetarian version could depart from this one, using mushroom ragu in place of the sausage, but we really liked it exactly this way. A serving of couscous, a little salad, and we called it dinner… 

Leftovers keep very well, and also heat without issues in the microwave.

ONE YEAR AGO: Polenta Bites with Spicy Tomato Sauce

TWO YEAR AGO: Vague Mousse Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Cottage Loaf, my very own technical challenge

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pork Ribs: Sticky, Spicy and Awesome

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

SIX YEARS AGO: Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Silky Cauliflower Puree with Almond Milk


TEN YEARS AGO:
 Popeye-Pleasing Salad
.
ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Summer’s Finale