On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


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Joy’s Best Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Poor Mr Fussy has had very little choice in cookies for work. I’ve been so busy making sugar cookies decorated with Royal Icing that there’s been no need to bake anything else. I can’t blame him for the look of delight when I suggested making chocolate chip cookies.

Bright and colourful

Bright and colourful

I’d read Joy’s blog when she posted the recipe and it had been on my mind to make these next time I had nothing else on my agenda. And that happened to be today.

Actually I made the dough last night and left it in the fridge overnight. Poor Joy, not sure what she might think with us swapping out the majority of the bittersweet chocolate to the bag of M&Ms that had been tucked away up in the pantry. We still added a little 50% Whittaker’s chocolate to round things out.

Very light in colour and structure.

Very light in colour and structure.

I really enjoyed the smell of the cookie dough, the aroma of the browned butter was very pleasant. The recipe itself is a little bit fussy, but the results are worth it. You’ve got to brown the butter and leave it to cool some 20 minutes before beginning. Then you cream brown sugar and the other half of the butter together before adding in the browned butter and white sugar. So there’s sort of two rounds of butter/sugar.  And then there’s the egg. There’s 1 whole egg and a egg yolk. What to do what that egg white because I’m not fond of tossing ingredients down the sink. Thank goodness egg white freezes well, and in my experience, works just the same when it’s thawed.

Plonk a couple of spoonfuls onto Gladwrap and roll. Easy peasy.

Plonk a couple of spoonfuls onto Gladwrap and roll. Easy peasy.

The dough is very light in colour, and it’s very soft as well. I also made a bit of a change. Rather than press the cookie dough into a disk and refrigerating, I rolled it into a log using Gladwrap. Taking large spoonfuls of dough to make a log was no problem, and those spoonfuls of dough came together into a cohesive log without any need of massaging it. I’m glad I left it in the fridge to firm up a big. Cutting the log into slices wasn’t difficult at all.

Eek, it's got a flat bottom. Must make uniform.

Eek, it’s got a flat bottom. Must make uniform.

As expected the dough had a flat bottom. I wasn’t especially happy with the idea of cookies baking with a straight edge so I succumbed and took each cut piece and squashed it and then rolled it into a ball and flattened it on the baking tray. Then I turned the cookie over so the flattened bottom was facing up.

All round and even, but perhaps a little too fat. Next time squish them a bit more.

All round and even, but perhaps a little too fat. Next time squish them a bit more.

The first tray went into the oven and it didn’t take me long to decide I’d flatten the remaining cookie balls more, and not tidy up the edges so that they were nice and smooth. The first lot just seemed a little organised and not quite as appealing. Not that the look detracted from the enjoyment of eating a warm cookie. The edges have a very delicate crispness and the inside is softer but has enough structure that it holds its own and doesn’t crumble. When the cookies were completely cool they were still very nice to eat. The few chunks of actual chocolate was still soft and oozed when finally allowed to escape the confines of the cookie.

I ended up with two “logs” of cookie dough. The other one has been put in a Glad ziploc bag and now in the freezer. Now Mr Fussy has another week of chocolate chip cookies to look forward to when he (desperately) needs a change.

Plenty of colour when you sub in M&Ms instead of bittersweet chocolate.

Plenty of colour when you sub in M&Ms instead of bittersweet chocolate.

This is another cookie recipe I’d be happy to make again. It’s quite different to other Chocolate Chip cookies we’ve made. I really liked the lightness and of course that browned butter.

While those cookies were baking, I was busy using my new KopyKake (KK) to trace some images onto (more) sugar cookies I baked (from previously rolled and then frozen cookie dough) on Friday night. Hopefully I’ll have finished the decorating by end of next weekend and will post the cookies. For now the cookies are in the freezer awaiting my attention, and steady (haha) hand.2014-05-25 11.07.20 2014-05-25 11.08.50 2014-05-25 11.07.53 2014-05-25 11.06.40 2014-05-25 11.06.13

All the countries we're visiting.

All the countries we’re visiting.

And following on from the theme of next weeks cookies, I’m off to Auckland tomorrow back Wednesday evening, and before we head overseas I’ve got another overnight trip to Auckland, then the week before we head away I’m in Sydney the entire week. While it sounds busy (and it will be), I’m hoping that by the time we get on the plane for Canada (our first stop)

I’ll actually be tired enough that I’ll sleep. Wouldn’t that be nice 🙂


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Mother’s Day – 2014

I think I’m mellowing. Mr Fussy may disagree. But I’m not all up in arms over the bits that didn’t go my way with the cake I made for Mother’s day.

We’ll get to that.

Clair Bowman's Cake Lace. Patchwork cutters for the cake board.

Clair Bowman’s Cake Lace. Patchwork cutters for the cake board.

More important, here in New Zealand it’s Mother’s Day. I had 3 mothers in the house, Mum, my sister and my Mother-in-law. And I didn’t forget about my younger sister too. I even make a special cookie just for her. She was in my mind even though she lives in Wellington and couldn’t be here for afternoon tea.

So happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums celebrating their special day today.

The "sweets" all laid out. Just waiting for those savoury items to make afternoon tea complete.

The “sweets” all laid out. Just waiting for those savoury items to make afternoon tea complete.

And for those of us not Mums, whether it be by choice or not, hope you’ve had a great day too!

Back to the cake. I made it the other week and froze it. I made it from a box mix (!) where I added sour cream to it. There’s a couple of reasons I chose to make the cake with a box mix. I had box mixes to use 😉 I wanted to freeze the cakes and I knew I would have the cake out for 3-4 days before it was going to be eaten. Those box mixes with sour cream added really last the distance, and they still taste really good.

All egg white Lemon Emulsion cake. Limoncello SMBC.

All egg white Lemon Emulsion cake. Limoncello SMBC.

This time I made the cake with all egg whites. This really does make a big difference in getting a very white cake. It was a lovely light cake and was still moist and flavoursome. And surprisingly, the syrup in the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) which had separated when I thawed it and re-whipped it fully incorporated and didn’t separate as the cake sat. I’ve thought the separation of the syrup is what causes my perfectly baked cakes to end up a bit soggy in the past. So now I’m a little confused, because that didn’t happen, yet it happened for my ANZAC cake, and this was the very same SMBC, the only difference is this was frozen AND I added Limoncello (which you couldn’t taste), and as I say the syrup separated as it thawed and I began to remix it. I’m confused.

I cut just a little too much of the cake lace to test spraying water. Now I had to try and disguise the gap.

I cut just a little too much of the cake lace to test spraying water. Now I had to try and disguise the gap.

I had made LMF fondant during the week. It was simple to make and easy and I thought all was going well until I rolled it out and lay it over the cake. It immediately tore at the edge. And this cake is not a double-barrel cake (twice the height of a normal cake) where that sort of thing is almost expected. So Friday night I had to get the trust Bakels fondant out, which is white, and knead a little of the LMF into it, to try and get a bit of a lavender colour, and use this. It really didn’t turn out very lavender in the light of day so I knew I would have to air brush the colour.

My original plan was to have the fondant lavender so I could just air brush pearl over it and the cake lace. In the end because the cake ended up 4” I used different cake lace than I had intended. The piece I wanted to use I ended up only having one strip off and I needed almost 2 strips to go around the cake. So I used the larger piece of cake lace. And believe it or not, these piece of cake lace are the very same I made when I blogged about Clair Bowman’s Cake Lace some 3 months ago! And it was still so supple.

I thought the cake lace might seem odd to eat but I wasn't even aware of it.

I thought the cake lace might seem odd to eat but I wasn’t even aware of it. And the air bubbles I’ve been unhappy with weren’t even something I noticed when looking at the cake.

Anyway, cake lace is applied to the cake by using a moistened brush and brushing the side of the cake. Well that was going to be problematic given the colour of the cake came from being airbrushed. So I sat there and wondered. First I cut a bit off one of the strips (as you’ll see, I shouldn’t have cut quite so much!) and used my spray bottle to see how it would hold up with I sprayed the cake lace instead of the cake. All looked good. It wasn’t dissolving. My problem was that I had a very supple piece of cake lace and with it wet how was I really going to line it up and press it against the cake? Back to the drawing board. What I ended up doing was spraying the cake. First I sprayed the cake face on and ended up wetting it too much. That too much wetness ended up as droplets on the cake. And you guessed it. I put my big fat fingers in it smudging it. Boo.

Instead I sprayed the cake side on and sprayed as I turned the cake (on a turn table). That seemed to work well enough. Now it was just the trick of still lining the cake lace up against the bottom of the cake and sort of folding it up onto the sides. It mostly went on without a hitch. I still had to wait and make sure that I hadn’t over-sprayed the cake and the cake lace was going to dissolve. Thankfully that didn’t happen, although a very small bit of it almost did.

Cookies I decorated this morning with ribbon roses and other embellishments. Bottom right is the special cookie I decorated for my sister who is in Wellington. This one had a bit more work with extra piping.

Cookies I decorated this morning with ribbon roses and other embellishments. Bottom right is the special cookie I decorated for my sister who is in Wellington. This one had a bit more work with extra piping.

Over ANZAC weekend I made a number of roses. I only had pink and white gumpaste with me and I wanted lavender roses. You’d have thought that I’d have added some blue or violet to it and just made it lavender. But no, not me. I wasn’t thinking that at the time. I’ve spent days dusting different roses trying to make pink lavender and never liking the end result. In a way I was relieved after putting the cake onto the cake board to realise that it needed nothing more, and in fact adding more would make it too busy. That old saying less is more rang true in this scenario. So although I had dusted all the roses I didn’t use any at all. Nor did I use any of the other little fondant/gumpaste buds I made (more for making Vintage styled cupcakes). And I almost didn’t use any of the ribbon roses I made, or the other little roses with added silver cachous, but I managed to work those into some cookies in the end.

Last weekend I had taken some cookies out of the freezer to decorate. What I didn’t consider is that as the cookies sat defrosting (still wrapped) they would stick to the wrapping. So when I eventually got around to unwrapping the cookies the royal icing had stuck and obviously pulled away as I removed the wrapping. Undeterred I carried on. Even if they couldn’t be salvaged it was still a good experience (and lesson!) to try something new. I made an Iris for Mum, bunch of Lavender for my MIL and Tulips for Natalie. I didn’t know what flower she might like but the Tulips were fairly simple in construction, even though I ended up making the main one look like a pineapple top.

Flower cookies I made for the 3 Mums in attendance.

Flower cookies I made for the 3 Mums in attendance.

Last night I decided that I’d pull out some more undecorated cookies and flood them using the new pastry bags that had arrived during the week (bought off eBay, and delivered free – takes an age but they eventually arrived). Using the bags is called tipless piping. There’s been a huge interest on certain Facebook pages and when the discussion first began I ordered the bags too, though I had to order from a different seller because I had to find someone who would ship to NZ. I had decided that if I didn’t like the feel, or the bags didn’t cut it, then I would still use them instead of making a capsule for the royal icing. And I can tell you that they are so much easier to prepare than gladwrap. So much calendar to dispose of, and yes, they do work. My lettering wasn’t quite as tubular as others say they get, but I think part of that is my royal icing was quite stiff so it wouldn’t settle as such, but I was trying to make sure that what I piped stayed put. I had tried last week with a normal piping tip and the black spread too much and I didn’t like the end result. I still have a bit to learn about the right consistency for piping letters.

Lastly I made the same chocolate cake I’ve made before using Rosie’s (of Sweetapolita) recipe, and I used a 500gm container for Maraschino cherries reserving 12 cheeries for the top and using the rest to make a cherry filling. Unfortunately I was so busy trying to get every last bit of cornflour/cherry juice mix from the jug that I forgot to stir what had already been poured into the pot and some of it congealed. It took a while to pick those bits out, and I didn’t get quite all of it.

Maraschino Cheeries are a favourite of Mums so I wanted to make something using them for Mother's Day.

Maraschino Cherries are a favourite of Mums so I wanted to make something using them for Mother’s Day.

I used the left over ganache (it was also left over from Jasmine and Sam’s engagement cake, used on the Mother’s Day cake, and then the remainder had a good squeeze of light corn syrup added to ensure it didn’t set hard) and whipped it up so that I could use it to pipe a dam to hold the cherry filling, and also pipe a swirl on top to secure the cherry.

I did serve some savoury items. I cheated and bought a focaccia bread that needed to be finished off in the oven, and made my usual cheesy puff mini muffins (which stuck to the tin – despite it being non-stick and being sprayed with oil).

So there we have it. Overall I think it all turned out very nicely. Lots learnt but I’m no longer up tight when it doesn’t turn out perfectly. My family knows that I put my heart and soul into what I do and sometimes no matter how much planning and time you have, you can still be thrown a few curve balls. Practice means I’ll be better equipped to deal with those. Then when I know better and I don’t end up rescuing something, then I can be peeved off 🙂

I broke the "u" and tried to patch it up. No one noticed until I pointed it out. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut in future :)

I broke the “u” and tried to patch it up. No one noticed until I pointed it out. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut in future 🙂

This coming week I have a trip (for work) to Melbourne and I’m making the most of it by sticking around the weekend. I’m looking forward to spending some time catching up with Cate and Brett, and their new pup Zed, and maybe I’ll come back with a Kopykake tucked under my arm (and a few pairs of winter shoes!). I guess what I’m saying is there’ll be no baking in the upcoming week to post next weekend. I’m leaving during the day Tuesday. My MIL is house sitting for her SIL which leaves Mr Fussy at home alone with the cats. He’s very much looking forward to having the house to himself and enjoying a few days being a bachelor. It’s been a very long time since he’s been able to play that role with my MIL now living with us. I’m not sure what will be cooked in the kitchen this coming week, but it wont be anything you’d want to see pictures of 😀

 


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Happy Birthday, Yvonne

Sorry to for the absence. Last weekend we headed to Hanmer for the long weekend. I got stuck into making sugar flowers and there’s not really much to show for it, or to say without the accompanying cake (not that I know how I’ll use them yet!). You’ll have to wait another week when Mother’s Day is all over with.

Since returning home I’ve made several batches of cookies, some using my new alphabet cutter set, but predominately the cookies have been for two events, Mother’s Day (next weekend!) and for my very best friend’s birthday.

Happy Birthday to my dear friend Yvonne

Happy Birthday to my dear friend Yvonne

I believe I’ve mentioned Yvonne before. Yvonne and I worked together when we were both at the bank working different areas of the Credit Card division of a bank that since been gobbled up by a bigger Aussie bank.

Yvonne was my Matron on Honour (and I can’t find any photos on the laptop) and I was her witness for her wedding some years later.

Life has taken Yvonne on many journeys to Holland and back, and currently she’s in Holland.

I flipped the cut out cookie to get a Giraffe to face the other way.

I flipped the cut out cookie to get a Giraffe to face the other way.

What I didn’t know about Yvonne until fairly recently is that she really loves Giraffes. Once I heard about that I ordered two Giraffe cookie cutters. I couldn’t find any in New Zealand, so these have both come from American, one from an Etsy store, the other from a big online cookie store.

PME 1 and stiff black icing.

PME 1 and stiff black icing.

I also got to use my Eiffel Tower cookie cutter.  The plan had been (and I don’t know if it eventuated) that Yvonne and Den would head to Paris to celebrate her very special birthday. So the Eiffel Tower cookie seemed fitting to me.

Thanks to SweetSugarBelle for her Giraffe tutorial

Thanks to SweetSugarBelle for her Giraffe tutorial

The hardest thing about the Giraffe (other than my constantly misspelling it!) was getting the cookie dough out of the cutter. It was a bit fiddly, but I persevered. The technique to decorate was wet on wet, though I was a bit late in tapping the cookie to get the brown spots to settle in, so one cookie has nice raised lumps in it 😉 The Giraffe heads were also wet on wet, but I piped the eyes last and again my black icing sunk into the white. I know it’s the amount of water in the black but it wasn’t that thin, plus I put the cookies in front of a fan heater to assist the royal icing to crust over quicker.

I’ve seen lots of cookies recently where the Helvetica alphabet has been used. But do you think I could come up with a number of different styles of design that were unique for each letter? I managed, but I wish inspiration came easier.

A little too much "detail". At least I don't remember the Eiffel Tower being this cramped.

A little too much “detail”. At least I don’t remember the Eiffel Tower being this cramped.

As for the Eiffel Towers, I started with the black on Friday night and was pleasantly surprised at how it came together. I first drew with an edible marker to get the beginnings of the framework and then I piped lots of lines and crosses. I wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to do a second cookie. That piping with a stiffer consistency icing makes you hand hurt with trying to be so precise. I flooded the second cookie in white and cheated by using the edible marker to draw the Eiffel Tower. Because I had much more control over a pen I got a bit carried away and added a few too many crosses. The tower is looking a bit busy and cluttered.

So there we have it. I would have dearly loved to send the cookies to Yvonne, but the distance, the time to travel and the bulkiness meant it wasn’t an option. Instead the best I could do was post a photo to Yvonne’s Facebook page.  Mr Fussy will be eating the cookies. He is a bit appalled that he’s expected to eat the cookies spelling Yvonne’s name 🙂

And for good measure, here’s a few of the other random cookies I decorated. Not nicely set out photos, these are photos taken on my phone as I was decorating. There’s a couple that I’ll leave until next post where I have the cake, the flowers and cookies all out for afternoon tea.

Another technique that doesn't come naturally to me. Teardrops.

Another technique that doesn’t come naturally to me. Teardrops.

Although the lines are closer than I've ever managed (I've tried only twice before), they could still be a bit closer yet.

Although the lines are closer than I’ve ever managed (I’ve tried only twice before), they could still be a bit closer yet.

First time trying the snail piping. Possibly ok for a first attempt but more practice required.

First time trying the snail piping. Possibly ok for a first attempt but more practice required.

My icing was a little to stiff to allow for the icing to fall into swirls and curves. And I'm a bit challenged at them too!

My icing was a little to stiff to allow for the icing to fall into swirls and curves. And I’m a bit challenged at them too!

I finally found a brush amongst all my brushes that gives me the right look for Brush Embroidery. I was really pleased how this turned out.

I finally found a brush amongst all my brushes that gives me the right look for Brush Embroidery. I was really pleased how this turned out.

A few silver cachous to give a little bling

A few silver cachous to give a little bling