Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange-Vanilla Bean Glaze

Start these eggnog and nutmeg-spiced cinnamon rolls with toasted pecan filling the night before and add the orange-vanilla bean glaze just in time for Christmas brunch!

Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze

I was 9 months pregnant the first time I hosted Christmas morning.  Admittedly, I wasn't thinking too clearly or logically by that point, and I decided to make homemade bagels from scratch for the first time. I wasn't very comfortable with yeasted doughs at the time, but I insisted on teaching myself one last new skills before Everett was born.  I ended up stressing entirely way too much over those lumpy rings of dough that some-what a bagel and haven't made them since...

Over the last few years, I've become a much more well versed in yeast-risen baked goods.  After experimenting with recipes like Lemon Brioche Pull-Apart Bread and Date Bourbon Buns, I better understand the simplicity of working with yeast and just how amazing homemade breakfast pastries taste still warm out of the oven.  Bonus points if you get to eat them still in your matching Chirstmas pj's.

One thing in particular that I've truly embraced with these types of recipes is the timing.  Want warm, gooey, sticky Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls come Christmas morning without having to wake up at 3am?  Start the dough the night before and make time on you side instead of impatiently waiting between rises. By placing the dough in the refrigerator to rise, you are essentially hitting “pause” in the process.  The cool temps in the fridge dramatically slow down the yeast, so the dough continues to rise but at a much slower pace.  Instead of scheduling 1 to 2 hours between steps, you can pop the dough into the refrigerator for 8 hours (or overnight) and continue on with your day/night, whether that be Christmas Eve or any other time of the year.

Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze
Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze
Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze
Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze

These Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls bake up beautifully in a French oven or cast iron skillet.  I find that they distribute heat very evenly and efficiently, creating perfectly risen buns with toasted edges and gooey centers. The puffy, pillowy dough is similar to a brioche dough and is loaded with lots of butter.  I've used eggnog as my liquid here, but you may use any type of milk in its place.  The eggnog flavors are quite subtle, so I like to add a pinch of nutmeg into the dough as well.  For a bit of crunch and texture, toasted pecans have been chopped and added to the cinnamon roll filling.

This cream cheese glaze has been my go-to accessory lately (you'll see it again on a couple more cake recipes coming up soon), so I decided to change it up by adding fresh orange juice, zest, and vanilla bean.  The bright yet subtle citrus notes pair perfectly with the nutmeg and cinnamon and nearly everything is better with a little vanilla bean.  Perfect along side a warm cup coffee and lots of Christmas cheer.

Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze

Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup eggnog or milk of choice
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
heavy pinch nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Pecan Cinnamon Roll Filling 

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
 

The night before: Warm the eggnog to between 100 to 110°F.  It should be warm to the touch.  Stir in the yeast and set aside for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg into a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk, then stir them into the eggnog mixture. Pour the eggnog mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Knead the dough by hand or with a mixer fitted with a dough hook on low speed for about 4 to 5 minutes. Once the dough begins to come together, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, while the dough is being kneaded. Try to add as little flour as possible. When done, the dough should be soft but not sticky.

Place the dough in an oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to rise overnight.
 

In the morning:Remove the dough from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature (I place it near a heater for about 20 minutes). Remove the butter for the filling and allow to soften.

Once the dough is soft enough to roll, lightly dust your work surface with a little bit of flour and roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 16 X 12-inches.

Spread the softened butter of the filling all over the surface of the dough, leaving about a half-inch boarder around the edges. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar and pat it into the butter. Repeat with the chopped pecans, if using.

Starting at the long edge of the rectangle, carefully roll up the dough into a long log. Slide a piece of dental floss under the log until about halfway up, pull up on the strings, cross them, and pull to cut the dough in half. Continue to cut the log into 8 to 10 even pieces. If the dental floss is tricky, use a serrated knife.

Generously butter the inside of a French oven, iron skillet, or baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the cut cinnamon rolls, cut-side up, in the bottom – leaving about a half-inch space in-between rolls. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to double in size – about 3o to 45 minutes in a warm room.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the kitchen towel and bake the cinnamon rolls for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes as you prepare the glaze (recipe to follow). Frost and serve the cinnamon rolls while they are still warm.

Leftovers will keep covered in plastic wrap at room temperature overnight.


Orange-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Glaze

4 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
zest of 1/2 an orange
pinch cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese and butter until well smooth.

Gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until incorporated.

Add in the orange juice, zest, vanilla bean paste, and cinnamon.  Stir until smooth.  Glaze should be rather thick yet spreadable.

 

Thank you to Le Creuset Canada for their participation in this post. Words and opinions are my own. 

Apple Blackberry Pie

A blushing pink pie filled with lightly spiced apples and dotted with fresh blackberries.

Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe

It’s officially Fall, y’all – and I couldn’t be more excited about all the apple, pumpkin, and cold weather things!  And while it would be predictable of me to talk about the changing leaves, our first apple-picking adventure, and my favorite fall coffee drink (despite sounding too pretentious, it’s currently a cappuccino with one raw sugar packet – lol, just in case you wanted to know), I’m actually here today to talk a bit about food media and how it has changed over the recent years.  That, and this pretty pink pie (jump to the middle/end of this post if that’s the only reason you are here – no shame in that!).

Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe
Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe
Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe

I was listening to Burnt Toast, Food52’s podcast, the other day.  The episode was titled What’s Different About Getting a Food Job Today? featuring Food52 co-founding editor Amanda Hesser and Peter Meehan of Lucky Peach.  Both are veterans in food media, and the episode highlights some of their thoughts and first jobs in the food world years ago as well as advice for future food writers trying to make it in the biz today.

Food writing as career is changing along side the blogging and social media game these days.  In the episode, they talked about where it was once seen as a conflict of interest to work in AND write about the food industry, or just too much self-interest, now we want to hear from the doers – the chefs, farmers, makers, etc.  In the past, going to culinary school put you on a very structured path into the kitchen, but now there are more jobs and opportunities in general and various ways to get into the industry.  Now it makes you more interesting and valuable to have spent a season harvesting the crop instead of it looking like a misstep on your résumé.  As Hesser points out, and I’m paraphrasing here, but now you can nerd-out on something specific like pickles or work on a farm and it’s cool.  When reading résumés, it’s experiences like this that stand out over getting your masters in Food Studies (which didn’t even really exist when I graduated just a decade ago).

I found the entire conversation fascinating and thought about how it applied to my own meandering career path into food media.  Listening to Meehan talk about his first internship with Food and Wine after dropping out of college and Hesser’s financial background followed by a bartending certificate, it was fun to compare my non-traditional entry to the food world as well.  Starting my adulthood with a BA in Communication and trying to nurture a budding relationship with cake, I had no idea that a decade later I would be a cookbook author and ex-bakery owner.

If you are just starting out, their advice (and mine) is to get your hands dirty.  “Wash dishes in a restaurant, volunteer at a co-op, assist a commercial fisherman,” as Hesser suggests.  Or if your entire world revolves around finding an excuse to make a cake like me in my early 20’s, do as I did and just see what it’s like to work at a local bakery for a while.  The bottom line is that if you want to work in the food media business today, you don’t have to go to culinary school or get a journalism degree.  For me, I contemplated going to pastry school dozens of times.  And while there is undeniable value in the discipline and attention to detail a pastry program will teach you, they can’t teach passion or creativity.  At a certain point, I realized that my experience in the kitchen and love for cake was enough, and let it go (I even ended up training the interns that came from a local pastry school at one point). 

Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe

I used to think that if I had a do-over I would have skipped getting my Bachelor’s and have gone to culinary school instead.  This I now know is mostly due to the insecurities I had starting in the food industry without professional schooling, but I’ve made due without the certificate and am pretty happy with how things turned out (plus my four years at UC Davis were way too much fun to trade in and I probably learned a thing or two about the writing side of my job along the way).  As it turns out, maybe my unconventional path was the recommended one after all. 

If you ask me now what I would do with a do-over it would not be to attend pastry school but to have filled my pre-baby days diving deeper into my field of cake and pastry, traveling to other communities rich with food and culture, eating my way through France, and working on a farm.  I would pick up odd jobs here and there (similar to my cake filling and frosting nightshift bakery days), finally try my hand at pickling and canning, or study everything to know about bread.  Since 90% of my life is now dictated by the tiny human that runs our household, I constantly find myself holding back from applying for a job at the local pie shop, or anything in the food biz really.  This isn’t because I want to gain odd experiences in order to advance in my food media career, but just because I am infatuated with nearly every aspect of food.  I would love to know what it takes to make pie all day, perfect my dough from day after day of hands-on practice, and work with local produce to create the most delicious fillings around.  I think the point that Hesser and Meehan were trying to make is that having that type of passion in just about anything food-related is more valuable than where you went to school or what degrees or certifications you picked up along the way.

For fun, Brett and I dream of retirement or even just a solid 48 hours to spend however we want.  My dream usually involves reading cookbooks for hours, sourcing ingredients from the local market, and then cooking without interruption.  For as much as I am turning into a city girl, this daydream now includes visions of working on a farm.  A few weeks ago, we took Everett apple picking – a first for all of us, actually.  I had an absurd amount of fun.  Who would have thought driving to a farm and picking your own produce with a toddler could be so much fun!?!?!  And while I know a couple hours picking apples does not even begin to compare to actually working on a farm and all the hard labour it requires, I can still romanticize what it would be like to really get my hands dirty.  What, that’s not romantic to you?  LOL.  I didn’t put it together before we went, but the farm was Willow View Farms in Abbotsford – the family farm of my Insta-friend, Kelsey, aka the Kelsey_thefarmersdaughter.

Maybe Kelsey can hire me as intern one day once the kids are in school and I can drive an hour out of the city to pick apples and help tend to the goats…..

Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe

This is the first of many apple treats I have headed your way this season.  And yes, I did use apples from the farm in my recipes.  This pie in particular is studded with blackberries.  Once baked, the berries turn the inside PINK!  This combination doesn’t scream FALL, but it is a nice break from everything dripping with caramel and packed with cinnamon these days.  For more detailed instructions on how to create the intricate braids and cut-outs, check out my article on Food Network.

Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe
Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe
Apple Blackberry Pie Recipe

Apple Blackberry Pie

All-Butter Crust
adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup very cold butter, diced
½ cup cold water
¼ cup ice
1 tablespoon apple cider
1 egg
splash milk
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar.  Place the ice in the water and set aside.

2.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers.  Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms.  Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.

3.  Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar.  Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl.  The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky.  Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed.  Do not over-mix.

4.  Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).

5. Once ready, bring one disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll.  Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. 

6.  Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin.  Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang.  Trim with kitchen sheers and place back in the refrigerator.

7.  Start the filling (recipe to follow)

8. For the braided top, repeat step 5.  Using a ruler and a paring knife, cut thin strips, about a 1/4-inch wide, for the center lattice.  Follow the remaining instructions for the fishtail, 5-strand braided border here. Place the strips and braids on a sheet pan and chill.

9.  Finish the filling.

10.  Fill the chilled pie crust with the apple-blackberry filling by layering the apple slices in tightly and dotted with berries, but leaving the juices behind.  Remove the strips from the refrigerator and create a lattice on top of the filling. 

11.  Fold all of the excess dough around the edges under itself and crimp using your thumb and index finger.  Cover the edges with the braided border.

12.  Return the pie back to refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

13.  Just before heading into the over, create an egg wash by whisking together a whole egg and a splash of milk.  Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

14.  Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.  If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

15.  Allow the baked pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.

 

Apple Blackberry Filling
4 to 5 apples, pealed, cored, and sliced into thin wedges (about ¼ inch thick or less)
juice from ½ a lemon
½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons corn starch
¼ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups fresh blackberries

1.     Place the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl.  Place the cut apples in the mixture and set aside while you prepare the top crust – about 20 minutes.

2.     After the apples have a chance to rest, drain out all of the liquids.

3.     Toss the slices with the remaining sugar and dry ingredients.

4.  Gently fold in the blackberries before laying into the bottom pie shell.

Classic Chocolate Tart

A silky ganache encased in a tender crust and topped with the ripest of summer berries.  Sink your fork (or teeth!) into this luscious chocolate filling and feel the "snap" of the buttery crust.  Forever a classic and always a great choice.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

While some recipes are filled with sprinkles and slathered with cookie frosting, other pastries only call for the purest of ingredients and simple, yet exquisite flavors.  I’m talking about this classic chocolate tart.  I’m talking about a crisp, buttery pate sablee crust filled with luscious chocolate ganache.  No drippy caramel or yogurt-covered diamonds needed.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries
Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries
Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

I spend a lot of my energy thinking about and baking up sky-high layer cakes.  I’m always trying to re-invent traditional recipes and introduce new flavors in the most dramatic, show-stopping ways.  But somedays I dream of classic French pastry.  I find myself escaping the scene of scattered toys around the living room, the piles of dishes/laundry/mail/etc, and all the other chaos that comes with having an active toddler by dreaming of kaleidoscope-like fruit tarts, jewel-toned macarons, meticulously layered entremets, and the purest of tartes aux chocolat.

When working with something as pure and unadulterated as the ganache in this tart, ingredients matter.  Splurging on high-quality chocolate that is going to be baked into a cake and potentially overshadowed and diluted by mounds of fudge frosting might seem frivolous, but when the chocolate accounts for 50% of the ingredients, it is not senseless but imperative.  When I opened the box of Valhrona chocolate that arrived at my doorstep it was like opening a box of gold.  I tend to hoard my good chocolates, saving them for special occasions and superior recipes.  So when I was trying to decide what to make first with my new haul, I knew it would be something that really made the flavours of the chocolate shine.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

The ganache in this tart is no doubt the star of the show.  I love a nice butter crust and fresh summer berries, but let’s get real.  This tart is all about that silky chocolate filling.  And rightfully so!  I decided to combine Valhrona's 70% dark chocolate and dreamy 36% Caramelia to make this smooth, luscious, slightly creamy semi-sweet filling.  Pair it with the a sandy, tender shortcrust and the ripest of summer berries and you are golden!  The perfect treat for anything from Tuesday afternoon coffee break to a fanciful dinner party.

Chocolate Tart with buttery crust and berries.
Chocolate Tart with butter crust and berries.

Instead of a flakey crust made with cold butter, I prefer the more cookie-like crust of a pate sablee.  Made with softened butter and confectioner’s sugar, this type of pastry is similar to shortbread cookies instead of a typical pie crust.  I find that not only is it easier and much more forgiving to make, the crisp base is the perfect texture to contrast the silky ganache.  I love how my fork sinks through the ganache and “snaps” into the crust.  You can read more about my love for this shortcrust pasty from The Kitchn’s Baking School last fall.

Chocolate Tart with buttery crust and berries.

Classic Chocolate Tart

For the Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons cream, as needed

For the Ganache
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3.5 ounces 35% Caramelia or milk chocolate
6 ounces dark chocolate

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until creamy.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Once combined, stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in the flour and salt.  Mix only until the last streaks of flour start to disappear.  Do not overmix.  When done, the dough should hold when pressed together.  If it is too dry, add in the cream as needed.

Turn out the down on top of a piece of plastic wrap.  Gather the dough and press it into a disk.  Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

When ready to roll, allow the dough to rest at room temperature until some-what pliable, about 10 minutes.  Roll between two pieces of parchment paper until 10 to 12 inched in diameter. 

Remove the top layer of parchment and carefully invert the dough into an 8 or 9-inch tart pan. Remove the other piece of parchment then lift and fit the dough into the corners of the pan.  Trim the edges by running a paring knife around the top edge of the pan.  Fill in any holes with the scraps as needed.  Wrap loosely in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the crust has chilled, line the bottom and sides with a piece of foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans.  Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  After it has partially baked, remove the tart and baking sheet from the oven.  Carefully remove the foil and pie weights.

Return the tart crust to the oven and continue to bake until slightly golden, about 5 to 10 more minutes.  Completely cool on a wire wrack before filling.

While the tart shell is cooling, make the filling.  Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside. 

Place the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer.  Once hot, pour the cream mixture over the chocolate.  Let stand for one minute, then whisk to combine.

Pour the ganache filling into the cooled tart shell.  Allow to set at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Decorate with fresh berries before serving. 

Store leftover loosely covered in plastic in the refrigerator.

 

Marble Macarons with Earl Grey Buttercream and Pink Lemonade Filling

Swirly royal icing transforms these fancy-pants French macarons into fun, whimsical treats.  The classic pastries are filled with Earl Grey buttercream, lemon cream, and raspberry jam.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

I’ve always been fairly artistic, so when I signed up for a watercolor class one summer at UC Davis, I thought it would be a breeze.  Up until then, I had trained in performing arts my entire life and had dabbled in acrylic painting in my free time.   Even children play with watercolors, so how hard could it be?  I was tragically mistaken.  Watercolor painting is extremely difficult, or at least when trying to manipulate water and paint into sometime remotely recognizable.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

I purchased all of the necessary supplies on the course list before class started and picked my seat at one of the tilted drawing tables with confidence.  As I looked around, I think my brushes were the only ones in the classroom that were unused, paints unopened, and palette completely clean of remnants of past projects.  Throw in some water, and I knew I was doomed. 

I was quickly humbled by colleagues’ abilities and grace working with this impossible medium.  I chose to paint things like abstract flowers while others were creating landscapes, one simple stroke at a time.  I felt like they were all working with the water, while I was trying to control it.  Our final project was a pond of koi fish.  I think mine is stashed away, still half-complete, somewhere in my parents’ storage unit… I’m not one to give up quickly, and I still play around with my paints from time to time, focusing on gradients, lettering, and whimsical little illustrations, but mainly I work with sugar and butter to fulfill my intrinsic artistic needs.

Growing up a dancer, I’ve always had a creative outlet.  I studied all disciplines of dance and musical theater (plus a few years of percussion) all the way through college.  As the style of dance transitioned from classical ballet to my college jazz team to contemporary/modern, my adult body could no longer keep up.  I started getting migraines in my mid-twenties and the movement associated with contemporary dance triggered my motion sickness.  Eventually I had to cut back and find a new way to express myself. 

Enter cake and pastry.  Just as I was leaving the world of dance that had consumed my previous 20+ years of life, I found my passion for baking.  Where I could no longer move and flex my body the way I wanted it to, I started to manipulate sugar.  I ended up throwing all of my energy into my new cake business, and the rest is history!  

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

For this recipe, I wanted to go bold and bright – something undeniably FUN for summer.  I fell in love with the whimsical designs of Meghan Rohsko of Nutmeg and Honeybee earlier this year and her ability to create edible art from sugar cookies and macarons.  Both finicky and fanciful, classic French macarons are typically perceived as these pristine little jewels, sitting unnecessarily high on their perfect pedestals.  Meghan’s use of vibrant colors and textures goes well beyond tradition and make macarons a bit more approachable and fun. 

Don’t get me wrong, baking perfect macarons can definitely be tricky - they have an elitist aura about them for a reason.  I’ve gone on about my quest to master these little pastries before, and I know I am not the only one out there to have a love/hate relationship for these little buggers.  In an effort to manipulate sugar in yet a new way, I wanted to decorate the actual shells of the macarons.  Made of mainly egg whites and almond flour, these crispy shells are temperamental and delicate.  A few drips of water, and they are ruined.  I’ve tried painting on them with petal dust mixed with alcohol, but I wanted to test out royal icing this time around.  Inspired by some of Meghan’s sugar cookies and macarons, I created these marble macarons! 

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

Using summer palettes of pink and yellow for my Pink Lemonade macarons and teal and sky blue for my Earl Grey macarons, a few drops of gel food coloring turned these plain shells into swirly, whimsical treats.  A quick bath in the colourful icing and it’s instant edible art!  Much easier than painting a watercolor fish, I promise, and much more fun, too.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

For the Shells
200 grams ground almond flour
200 grams powdered sugar
200 grams granulated sugar
50 grams water
140 grams egg whites (from about 4 large eggs)
gel food coloring of choice

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicon mats and set aside.  Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the mixtures registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and let rest for about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs whites with an electric mixer until medium-soft peaks.  If using a stand mixer, begin whisking on high when the sugar mixture hits about 210 degrees. 

Once the sugar mixture is hot and the eggs are whipped, keep the mixer running on high speed and carefully pour in the sugar.  Pour in the sugar slowly and try to keep it from hitting the whisk to prevent hot sugar splatters.  Continue to mix on high until the outside of the mixer bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes).  During the last minute or so, add in the gel food coloring, if desired.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Using a large, rubber spatula, begin folding in the meringue mixture into the almond flour mixture in three batches.  Use large, deliberate folds – turning the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl up to the top.  Continue to fold and smooth out the batter until it falls like thick lava off of the spatula – not too stiff and not too runny.  Rotate the bowl as you fold and smear the mixture against the sides of the bowl with spatula to smooth.  Do not over-mix.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip with the macaron batter.  Pipe out uniform rounds of the batter, about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, on the prepared baking sheets.  When done, rap the bottoms of the baking sheets a few times against a safe work surface to knock out any air bubbles. 

Allow the piped macarons to rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops feel dry to the touch and are not too sticky.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  When done, the tops of the macarons should "jiggle" slightly but still feel attached to the base.  Cool the macarons on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before  carefully pealing them off the parchment paper or baking mat.

For the Lemon Cream Filling 
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined.  Slowly add in the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.  Beat on medium until fluffy – about 30 seconds or so.

Royal Icing
1 egg white
1 ½ cups confections sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
water

Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg white on medium until frothy.  Gradually add in the sugar and turn the mixer up to medium-high.  Continue to mix until soft, glossy peaks.  Add in the lemon and mix until combined.  Stir in water, a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, as needed.  The royal icing should be fairly runny, similar to Elmer’s glue.

Assembly
royal icing
gel food coloring
raspberry jam
Earl Grey buttercream (half of this recipe)

Match all of the macarons by size and set on a baking sheet.  Only the tops will be decorated, while only the bottoms will be filled.  Set aside.

Divide the royal icing into two bowls.  Using a toothpick, dot the top of the royal icing with gel food coloring – two to three colors in each bowl.  Gently swirl to combine.  Holding the edges with your fingertips, dip the tops of the macaron shells into the royal icing.  Swirl, lift, and shake, allowing the excess icing to drip off.  Place the shell, icing side up, on a baking sheet and gently tap to get rid of any air bubbles.  Clean up the sides as needed with a clean fingertip or paintbrush and allow to dry – at least 4 hours.

Pipe the filling on the bottom shells.  To create the Pink Lemonade macarons, pipe a ring of lemon cream around the edges, then fill with about ¼ - ½ teaspoon raspberry jam.  Pipe on the Earl Grey buttercream with a medium star or round tip.  Do not overfill or pipe directly to the edges.  Place the tops on the filling and gently press together until the filling flattens and reaches the edges.

It is common practice to let the macarons “mature” for 24 hours – allowing the flavors and textures to develop.  If you are like me, then enjoy at your leisure (like immediately after, hehe).


This design was heavenly inspired by Meghan of Nutmeg and Honeybee.  Be sure to give her a shout out and follow her YouTube Channel!

 

 

Black and Blueberry Pie

Ripe, juicy blackberries and plump, local blueberries sweeten up this classic summer pie.  Each slice is overflowing with berries surrounded by an all-butter, flakey crust.

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

I had so much fun making this Apricot Raspberry Pie last month that I had to turn around and make another.  Thanks to a generous donation from the BC Blueberry Council last week, I knew exactly what I was going to try next, the Black and Blueberry Pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe
Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

When I tell you how excited about my newfound love for pie is, I am not joking.  After the success of my lattice adventure and first all-butter crust experience, I quickly went out and bought the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been pretty enamoured by the Elsen sisters and their pie journey.  I know I am like 3 years late to the party, but I’ve gone as far as to question my entire being and wondering why I don’t have a sister to start a pie shop with, toyed with the idea of opening my own (then quickly remembered what it was like to run a cake shop), but most accurately, I have drooled over each and every one of their recipes. 

The photos in the book are absolutely gorgeous – not too trendy or overly styled - and the anecdotes make you feel like you are hanging out in their Brooklyn kitchen.  In fact, the next time I make it back to NYC, you bet it will be on the top of my list of places to eat.  No, Four and Twenty Blackbirds is not super new or anything, but I have fallen behind on all the hip, new places to dine in New York.  In my ripe old age of 32, I’ve completely fallen out of touch.  Even here in Vancouver, I can’t hardly keep up with the ever-changing food scene – not that could wait for a table with a toddler even if I knew where to go. 

Back in the day, my mom and I spent each of my college spring breaks in NYC bakery hopping and seeing the most current Broadway show.  I’m talking about a time where people were still discovering that the a line-up in the West Village led to delicious Magnolia’s Bakery cupcakes and the hottest ticket in town was for the original cast of “Wicked.”  I would have already scouted out the newest bakery or cake shop to check out and booked tickets to the latest shows before the winter quarter was over.  And as soon as I was done with finals, we would take the red-eye Jet Blue flight to NYC.  We would spend our mornings shopping or brunching at Sarabeth’s before sliding into our orchestra seats to see the amazing dancers of “Movin’ Out” or snag a last-minute ticket to “Rent,” because “Rent” live was always a good idea.  We would tour the art galleries uptown, then head back to Canal Street to barter over handbags.  Always a city girl at heart, I felt hip, cool, and totally "alive" (although using those words probably means that I wasn’t, lol).

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe
Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

To say I was lucky is a total understatement.   I was always grateful for our trips, but looking back now, I bet I didn’t know just how good I had it.  Of course the time spent together bonding was priceless, and for my mom, it meant her daughter wasn’t off partying somewhere else during spring break, but those years were truly unforgettable.

I wouldn’t say I took those trips to NYC for granted, but sometimes I wish I could go back to experience each moment to its fullest.  I won’t be hopping on any red-eyes any time soon, yet I yearn for just a few days to eat my way around the city.  I know I sound ridiculous, but I’ve totally missed out on the rise of pastry phenomena like Momofuko Milk Bar, Dominique Ansel, and Four and Twenty and as a dessert blogger I feel that it is my duty to go, lol.   Even before Everett was born, I wish we had made it for one last girls trip...  

Lucky for people like me or anyone else that is in a point in their lives where they are a bit more anchored down with their families, careers, etc, there are fabulous cookbooks that make you feel like you are part of the experience.  I bet a pie made by the hands of the Elsen girls themselves tastes 10X better; at least I can still try my hand at one of their recipes in my own home across the continent.  Now if only we could get a version of "Hamilton" broadcast to all of use that can’t hop over to NYC in the near future, then I’d be a little more content “stuck” on the west coast, hehe.

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

Black and Blueberry Pie

All-Butter Crust
adapted from Hummingbird High

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
½ cup cold water
¼ cup ice
1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar
1 egg
splash milk
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar.  Place the ice in the water and set aside.

2.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers.  Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms.  Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.

3.  Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar.  Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl.  The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky.  Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed.  Do not over-mix.

4.  Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).

5. Once ready, bring one disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll.  Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. 

6.  Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin.  Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang.  Trim with kitchen sheers and place back in the refrigerator.

7.  For the braided top, repeat step 5.  Using a ruler and a paring knife, cut 18 strips, about a 1/2-inch wide.  Braid in groups of three and place on a baking sheet or cutting board and place in the refrigerator, along with any leftover dough.

8.  Meanwhile, make the filling (recipe to follow).

9.  Fill the chilled pie crust with the filling (fruit and juices).  Remove the braids from the refrigerator and place on top of the filling. Allow for some excess dough on the end of each strip, then trim.

10.  Fold all of the excess dough around the edges under itself and crimp using your thumb and index finger (see NOTES).

12.  Return the pie back to refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

13.  Just before heading into the over, create an egg wash by whisking together a whole egg and a splash of milk.  Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

14.  Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

15.  Allow the baked pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

Black and Blueberry Filling
adapted from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

4 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Allow to macerate for about 15 minutes before pouring into the chilled pie shell.

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

Baker’s Notes
      I hardly ever make pie, so I didn’t have a go-to pie crust recipe on hand.  I relied on this all-butter crust from my pie-making pal Michelle of Hummingbird High.  Be sure to check out her post all about pie for more information.

      Speaking of great pie tips, check out Adrianna’s pie post on A Cozy Kitchen.

      When in doubt, keep that butter COLD!!  Be sure to refrigerate the pie dough between each step.  Keep the butter cold will help prevent the baked crust from shrinking.  Don’t quote me on this, but cold butter should also make for a more flakey crust as it helps keeps gluten formation in the flour to a minimum (please forgive me, as I may have just made that up…).

      Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar in the filling slightly to adapt to the ripeness of the fruit.

      Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing.  Like, really.  Multiple hours (at least 2 to 4 hours).

-    For this particular pie, I folded the excess crust from around the edges up and IN towards the center.  After watching pie videos on Erin McDowell's Instagram, I noticed she folds excess dough UNDER before crimping.  So much prettier!

A big THANK YOU to the BC Blueberry Council for their generation donation of fresh, local berries!