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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Yesterday I went to the bookshop and, as always, I spent 30 minutes on the cook books isle! (I should dedicate a whole post to my cookbooks addiction and I will, here soon). I was debated to buy a book about Macarons, but I ended up thinking 25€ were a bit too much for a book which only had one recipe inside. Anways…On the way home I started craving some cookies (starring at treats pictures for hours did not help, really!), so I decided to bake something with almonds. That is why I made these wonderful Almonds Horns, to which I added a twist covering the ends with chocolate. I forgot Macarons really quickly, as they turned out fantastic!!

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Ingredients

– 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
– 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
– 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting
– 1 large egg
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
– 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
– 1 cup almond flour
– 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped for covering
 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and extracts. Reduce speed to low. Mix in flour mixture and almonds until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a 4-inch log; gently shape into a horseshoe. Repeat with remaining dough. Transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment.
  4. Bake cookies (rotating sheets halfway through) until pale golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks using a spatula; let cool completely.
  5. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave in 30-second increments until melted, about 2 minutes.
  6. Working with 1 cookie at a time, place ends into melted chocolate and turn to coat. Lift cookie from bowl, letting excess chocolate drip off. Transfer to a wire rack or on a baking sheet. Wait until chocolate hardens (if you want to speed up the process you can put cookies in the refrigerator, about 10 minutes).
  7. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature 2 to 3 days.
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I love September not only cause it’s my month of birth, but mostly because there’s a different energy in the air. Summer is about to be over, but it’s still warm and sunny outside. At night you can fill the breeze and start cracking the window instead of sleeping with the air-conditioning on! Specially in Italy, it looks like the beginning of a new year (and basically it is), as everybody came back from August summer holiday and now is ready to start back again. It’s a month full of good intentions (I will go to the gym, I will start eating healthy, I will…add whatever you want) and lots of things to do! For example, here at the country we have tons of fruit ready to be picked up: apples, pears, wild blackbarries, plums, grapes and figs (of course!). Two days ago I came home with a basket full of green mini-figs…they are bite-sized and soooo sweet. I decided to dry out part of them but I had some leftover and…ta-daaaa: Choco Chip & Fig Cupcakes! I like them cause figs turned out still moist but cupcake batter was perfectly baked. Simply yummy!

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INGREDIENTS:

– 1½ cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 1½ teaspoons baking powder
– ½ teaspoon table salt
– 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
– ½ cup sour cream
– 1 large egg , room temperature
– 2 large egg yolks , room temperature
– 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

– ½ cup chocolate chips (bitter or semi-sweet, as you please)

– 12 little figs, washed and dried

DIRECTIONS:

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350° F. Line standard muffin/cupcake tin with paper or foil liners.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain. Toss in chocolate chips and stir them with a spoon just until combined.

3. Divide batter among cups of prepared tin, leaving half to 3/4 of them empty. Take figs and place each one of them in the center of a cup, pushing it softly down the batter. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into cupcake batter comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack.

Lately I experimented a couple of recipes for frostings and icings. Today I was going to make a ‘seven-minute’ frosting but I realized I didn’t have enough eggs to make it!! I had 24 cupcakes waiting to be frosted, so I opened the fridge and looked for a ‘last minute’ solution. I had some sour cream (cupcakes recipe leftover), greek yogurt and heavy cream…I mixed together greek yogurt, sour cream, some sugar powder and 1 tsp and a half of instant coffee powder. I whipped the heavy cream adding some natural red food color and then added it to the yougurt mixture. It turned out (incredibly) good. Don’t ask me why I used pink color….maybe cause I was inspired by the paper cases (a lovely gift from my aunt btw).

Anyway, everybody had two of them at the end of our Sunday lunch. I guess they liked them 😉

Immagine

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (not instant coffee)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour and cocoa.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth and light. Add the brown sugar and eggs; beat until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt; beat to combine thoroughly.

3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Mix together brewed espresso and espresso powder; add to batter, and beat until smooth.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes and proceeding to frost them.

5. For the frosting: make a seven-minute frosting (this version doesn’t require to be cooked!) adding some natural red food color while whipping the heavy cream.

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