The devastation in Haiti is almost beyond imagining. While the media is covering the disaster extensively, it still seems impossible to comprehend the extent of the tragedy and the number of lives that may be lost. Today's New York Times says that 3 million Haitians are affected by the earthquake and that the death toll will be counted in the tens of thousands. Of course, my thoughts are with the people of Haiti and all those who have friends, relatives and colleagues in the country. While aid workers struggle to find ways to help the country and its people, I am making a donation to the World Food Program, the United Nations organization that Pim and others have been working with for six years through Menu for Hope.
First, Happy New Year! I wanted to wish you all the very best for 2010 when the new decade dawned, but I had blogical problems too boring to talk about it. I also had pictures and stories from my time in Brittany that now look very 2009, but I'll try to get them up anyway ... soon.
For now, I've got pinwheels spinning in my head. Like the Chocolate Crunchies, these come from my column in Parade, 1-2-3 Bake! And also like the Crunchies, they're more a sketch than a real recipe. In other words, you can play around with these ... a lot.
Sweet pinwheels - the ones in the picture are cinnamon - are essentially just puff pastry and sugar. You sprinkle your work surface with sugar (in this case, cinnamon-sugar), lay out the puff pastry, sprinkle the top with sugar and roll out the dough, turning it occasionally and making sure that you roll the sugar into the dough to sweeten it. (I used Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets for these and, as you'll see in the recipe, I didn't unfold them; instead I started with the packet and rolled the sheet into a 13-x-15-inch rectangle.) Then you roll the dough up jellyroll-style. All that's left is to cut the dough into 1/2-inch thick rounds and bake them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I actually like parchment more than my beloved silicone mats here.) They take about 20 to 25 minutes in a 350-degree F oven.
...Continue reading Puff Pastry Pinwheels, Sweet + Savory
I created these candies a little while ago for 1-2-3 Bake!, my column in Parade Magazine, and I've been making them regularly and in several different versions ever since. While candymaking is something I love, it's not something I do very often. A few truffles now and then, some caramels here and there and, of course, some marshmallows from time to time (I put a bunch of marshmallow recipes in my last book and had the feeling that I probably could have written an entire chapter on them -- they're really fun to make and easy to play around with), but really, that's about it.
And then along came these little chocolate treats. They're almost embarrassingly simple to make and, while you could complicate them, I'd suggest you restrain yourself.
...Continue reading Chocolate Crunchies: A Make-it-Yourself Candy to Make Your Own
I've been in Paris for a few days, but haven't had the time to do my complete annual Buche de Noel tour. Happily, les buches remain the centerpieces of Paris patisseries through New Year's, so I've got another week to catch up ... and I will (or at least I hope I will).
No matter that a buche is a yule log and that the traditional cake is usually just that shape, tradition doesn't seem to be much in fashion this year. Fantasy is all and, given what a year it's been, fantasy seems just right this Christmas. Among the most fanciful cakes is this one from Dalloyau. Dalloyau is most famous for its Gateau Opera, and this year the centuries-old pastry house has kept its connection to the stage and created La Prima Donna, a raspberry-vanilla-and-citrus cake dressed in mandarine meringue.
...Continue reading A Sweet and Merry Christmas to All
I'm so annoyed with myself. I wanted to get this list to you weeks ago, but I've been swamped with work on my next cookbook. I also wanted to write a bunch about each book, but it doesn't look as though that's going to happen either. Now I'm hoping that, late as I am, just getting the list to you will be all that will count. Next year ...
This has been a great, great year for baking books! There are always a lot of baking books published, but this year the crop seems particularly sweet. Since it's impossible for me to do a run-down of all the good baking and dessert books that have come out in 2009, I'm just going to mention the really good books that my friends have written. I may have forgotten a few -- I probably have and I'm sorry already -- but I'll try to mention them as soon as they come to mind (and after I've clopped myself on the head for the lapse). For now, here they are.
I met Melissa Gray in 2006, when Baking from My Home to Yours was published and she invited me to come to National Public Radio's studios in Washington, DC to talk baking with All Things Considered's host Michele Norris. When I turned up there were cakes and cookies and muffins, all from my book and all from Melissa's kitchen. Melissa was just starting out on what would be become a great baking adventure for her, a treat for everyone in the NPR offices and a wonderful, wonderful book for all of us. All Cakes Considered includes a year's worth of cakes that Melissa brought to the NPR offices every Monday. The recipes are terrific, ditto the stories. Melissa's knows storytelling, she knows writing and she knows baking. It's an unbeatable trifecta.
...Continue reading Books by Friends: 2009 Baking Edition