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Cover: Founding Flavors

Recipes with Sugar

16Dec 12

A Delicious Stroll Through the Marienplatz Christmas Market in Munich

This year, I embarked on a holiday journey to Germany to experience the tradition of European Christmas markets.  My only expectation was that I’d encounter a healthy overdose of everything related to Christmas, trying all sorts of goodies along the way.  While I made various stops in markets throughout Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich, my favorite was a Christmas market in Munich.  Situated in the heart of Munich, the Christmas market in Marienplatz provided a magical experience with the gothic New Town Hall building serving as the backdrop for an illuminated Christmas tree towering over the market.  Walking through the various booths filled with Christmas trinkets and food stands selling mulled wine known as Glühwein, bratwurst, and a gloriously overwhelming selection of sweets, one easily comes to understand why so many people flock to Germany each year to partake in the holiday celebrations.

While most of my behavior was rather civilized, I had occasional moments when I was unsuccessful at resisting the urge to shove innocent bystanders, as I followed the scent of sugar and spices towards booths filled with sweets.  There were gingerbread cookies decorated with frosting dangling from colorful ribbons.  Then there were pastries filled with apples, plums, marzipan, and poppy seed, as well as Berliners – donuts filled with jelly.   Hidden behind the crowds, there were crepes and hot chocolate.  And, not to be forgotten were the rows of almonds covered in sugar, and Chocolate Kiss’ consisting of chocolate-covered domes filled with a soft, creamy meringue offered in flavors like amaretto and rum raisin.

Regardless of what time of year you visit Germany—and Munich in particular—you are quickly impressed and intimidated by this country’s appreciation for the art of scrumptious and elegantly presented pastries.  But, as you stroll through the streets and markets, looking into various booths and pastry shop window displays, you are left with the sense that the holidays are recognized as the perfect time to showcase all these sweet treasures.

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02Dec 12

Canela-Apple Cookies

The holidays are my favorite time of year.  Not just because everyone seems to be a little friendlier or because of the endless decorations and music, but because it brings me back home.  Sometimes physically and other times mentally.  This past week it was the latter that brought back memories of my grandmother’s holiday baking.  Growing up, my grandparent’s house was always well stocked with all sorts of goodies but the most coveted treats were her perfectly pressed cinnamon and sugar cookies.  The second she’d place them out, one-by-one we’d suddenly appear in the kitchen, as if by coincidence.  As I started thinking about these cookies, I also remembered several of her other desserts, including apple filled empanadas.  And, that’s how I got inspired to combine a bit of the two and create the Canela-Apple Cookie.   It has an outer cookie layer that resembles the flavors in her cinnamon and sugar cookies, is lined with a touch of homemade caramel, and then filled with spiced baked apples.

Enjoy!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

Ingredients:
Cinnamon and sugar cookies
All-purpose flour: 2 cups
Baking soda: ¼ teaspoon
Butter, unsalted: 6 ounces or 12 tablespoons
Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon
Egg, whisked: 1
Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon

Homemade caramel
Alcohol of your choice: 1 teaspoon (I used Curacao triple sec but other excellent options include brandy and bourbon.)
Butter, unsalted: 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons
Cream of tartar: 1/8 teaspoon
Heavy cream: 2 tablespoons
Sugar: 1 cup

Spiced apple filling
Alcohol of your choice: 2 tablespoons (I used Curacao triple sec but other excellent options include brandy and bourbon.)
Apples, gala: 2
Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg: ½ teaspoon
Sugar: ¼ cup

Instructions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine all of the cookie ingredients in a bowl and mix.

3. Flour your baking surface and roll out the dough into a thin layer.  If the dough starts to stick to the rolling pin, simply place a bit of flour on the surface of the dough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Create your desired shape using a cookie cutter.  Since it is the holidays, I opted for a snowman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Gently lift the cutout using an icing spatula or knife.

6. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

7. Once out of the oven, let the cookies cool.

8. Then, mix sugar and cinnamon on a plate and gently dip the front side of the snowman in the mixture until it is fully coated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Line up the snowmen in pairs because each Canela-Apple Cookie will require two cutouts.

10. Now, you’ll prepare the caramel by placing one cup of sugar in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir occasionally as you allow the sugar to melt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Once the sugar has melted and has a light amber color, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.  The caramel mixture will bubble up a bit so keep stirring until your left with a caramel that has a smooth consistency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12.  The caramel will start to harden so you’ll need to work cautiously and quickly as you use a spoon to drizzle caramel onto one snowman for each pair of cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. Now, it’s time for the apple filling.  Chop two gala apples into small squares and then combine the spiced apple filling ingredients into a saucepan and cook over medium heat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. Once apples are tender, use a potato masher to gently break the cooked apples apart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

16.  Use a spoon to place the apple filling over each caramel lined snowman and then gently press the remaining snowmen on top to create a cookie sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17. At this point, the caramel has hardened, which is why you’ll need to let the cookies sit for at least three hours so that the caramel melts into the apple filling mixture.  If you don’t have time to wait this long, you can skip the homemade caramel altogether and purchase a pre-made caramel spread.

18. Use a decorative platter to serve your cookies and enjoy!

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02Dec 12

Heavenly Dark Chocolate Gelato

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on a quest to make a flavorful homemade gelato that maintains the creamy texture of store-bought brands.  I tried endless recipes, which called for various combinations of skim milk, whole milk, heavy cream, and half-and-half.  The results ranged from flavorless to icy to a soft custard and then finally to a heavenly dark chocolate gelato that made the frustrations of the past two weeks well worth it.

Enjoy!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

 

Equipment:
Ice cream machine

Ingredients:
Chocolate shavings, preferably with 65% cacao content: ½ cup
Cocoa powder, unsweetened: ¾ cup
Cognac: 2 tablespoons
Egg yolks: 4
Half-and-half: 2 cups (2 cups of whole milk can be substituted but it will not be as creamy.)
Heavy cream: 1 cup
Powdered milk, skim: ¼ cup
Sugar: 1 cup

Instructions:
1. Place sugar and one cup of half-and-half in a medium saucepan and let it simmer on low heat for one minute, stirring occasionally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Whisk the four egg yolks in a bowl.  Then add a little bit of the heated sugar and half-and-half mixture to the eggs and stir for ten seconds.  Now, pour this mixture into the saucepan containing the sugar and half-and-half mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Add the cocoa powder to the mixture and allow the mixture to simmer on low to medium heat.  You can use a jam and sugar thermometer to wait for the temperature to rise to roughly 170-180°F.  If you don’t have a thermometer you can let the mixture simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The mixture might start to splatter so lift the saucepan from the heat, as necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Now, stir in the remaining cup of half-and-half, the heavy cream, and powdered milk. Stir mixture for 2 additional minutes on low heat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Strain the mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Once the strained liquid gelato mix has been collected in a bowl, add the cognac and stir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least six hours.

8. Now, add the chilled mixture into your ice cream machine and let it run for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. During this time, use a chocolate shaver or a vegetable peeler to collect ½ cup of chocolate shavings from the best quality dark chocolate bar you can find.  I used Felchlin’s Grand Cru Maracaibo 65%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. 15 minutes into the mixing of the ice cream, pour in the chocolate shavings and let machine run for the remaining 15 minutes.

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28Oct 12

What Does 100 Years of Existence Get You? Unforgettable Rugelach!

While last week’s blog entry focused on the Founding Flavors’ discovery of Tel Aviv’s Vaniglia ice cream shop, today I’m focusing my attention on an equally enticing sweet shop called Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery.  This bakery—located in Jaffa, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv—has been around since the late 1800s.  Given Jaffa’s 4,000 years of existence, this could technically place Abuelafia among a list of newcomers!  Once you arrive at this outdoor bakery and swoon over its mouth-watering selection of savory and sweet pastries, you quickly understand why customers have been lured back to this establishment for over a hundred years.

After a little assistance from the staff, I opted for dibla, awwami, and rugelach.  The dibla is best described as a pastry that has a crunchy texture with a slightly sweet taste and is topped off with sesame seeds.  While I’m glad I tried this pastry, I did feel like I’d wasted by calories on a treat that was not very flavorful.  Next, came the awwami, which is a donut ball that is offered with or without jelly filling.  My overall impression… that which we call a donut ball by any other name would taste as sweet.  Don’t get me wrong, the awwami was delicious but I was looking for something that had a combination of ‘to die for amazing’ and unique to Israel.

That is when I tried the rugelach.  And, hands down, the rugelach at Abuelafia has the Founding Flavors’ stamp of approval because it is one of the best rugelach that I have ever tasted.  In addition to a delectable blend of chocolate and cinnamon, there are three things that stand out about their rugelach.  First, the overall appearance of the rugelach, which is displayed in large mounds and perfectly lined with chocolate or jam filled swirls.  Second, the size of the rugelach is large enough to hold you over until lunch or dinner but not so small that you keep craving more as you tour around the area.  Third, the consistency of the rugelach is substantial, chewy, and not overly drenched in syrups or honey.  This is particularly key as a tourist because the last thing you want is to be strolling around Tel Aviv eating rugelach and then be left with a sticky hand and no conveniently located area to wash up.

Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery is a pastry establishment that is definitely worth a visit.   If you’re ever in Jaffa, head towards 7 Yefet Street, one block behind the Jaffa clock-tower, and you will not miss it.  Abuelafia’s rugelach was so amazing that it left me wanting to try my hand at making some on my own.  So, stay tuned for next week’s blog entry on making rugelach!

Cheers!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

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14Oct 12

Margarita Infused Cupcakes

I was recently invited to a casual weekend gathering and decided, naturally, that I’d bring dessert.  As I contemplated what specific treat to make, I decided I’d add a personal touch to my creation by honoring the host.  And, seeing as how the host was a fan of tequila, a margarita flavored cupcake seemed like the perfect choice for an outdoor barbeque.  Next time someone invites you over, try to personalize whatever hostess gift or offering you bring.  It is a great way to turn a casual “what should I bring” moment into a well-thought-out gesture that shows how much you appreciate the host’s hospitality.

To create the margarita flavored cupcakes, I started with a recipe for vanilla cupcakes and then adjusted, eliminated, and added ingredients to design my alcohol infused dessert.  You can even increase the amount of alcohol if you prefer a stronger taste.  Pass no judgment please, but let’s just say that after my husband suggested the idea, we may have made a mad dash to the pharmacy to pick up a syringe.  Despite the pharmacist’s concern and bewilderment when we indicated that the only thing we’d be injecting were cupcakes, we immediately ran back home, filled the syringe with triple sec and tequila, and proceeded to enhance the cupcakes’ taste with alcohol.  The result? A fabulously creative and clever cupcake that could possibly leave you feeling slightly tipsy both pre and post baking!

Cheers!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

Margarita Infused Cupcakes
 

Ingredients
  • Cupcake recipe:
  • Butter: 8 tablespoons
  • Skim milk: 1 cup
  • Cake flour: 1¾ cups
  • All-purpose flour: 1¼ cups
  • Unrefined brown sugar: 1½ cups
  • Baking powder: 1 tablespoon
  • Salt: ¾ teaspoon
  • Eggs: 4
  • Tequila: 1 shot
  • Triple sec: ½ shot
  • Lime zest: 1 teaspoon
  • Frosting:
  • Tequila: 2 ½ teaspoons
  • Triple sec: ½ teaspoon
  • Lime juice: 2 teaspoons
  • Skim milk: ½ cup
  • Butter: 8 tablespoons
  • Powdered sugar: 8 cups-10 cups
  • Green food coloring

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F and place paper liners in a cupcake pan.
  2. Combine softened butter and milk in a mixer.
  3. Add in cake flour, all-purpose four, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add in eggs, one at a time.
  5. Finally, combine tequila, triple sec, and lime zest.
  6. Fill each cupcake liner three-fourths full.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Let cupcakes cool completely.
  9. Once cooled use a brush to dabble a bit more tequila on the surface of the cupcake.
  10. To create the frosting, combine tequila, triple sec, lime juice, milk, butter, and four cups of powdered sugar in a mixer.
  11. Add powdered sugar as necessary to thicken the consistency of the frosting.
  12. Add green food coloring. I wanted a soft lime green color and used about 2-3 drops.
  13. Fill a pastry bag with the frosting and start to decorate the cupcakes.
  14. You can add decorations to the cupcake. I opted for a lime slice.
  15. It was at this point, that after tasting the cupcakes, I decided I wanted a stronger margarita flavor and added alcohol with a syringe.

 

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