Japanese Cheesecake

I got interested in the Japanese Cheesecake about 2 months ago when I was talking to my granddaughters. They showed me the video of the making of the Fluffy, Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake and commented about how they would like to learn how to make it. I agreed to help them. Meanwhile, I had to research the project and make certain I could make the cheesecake. So I went from the video to the web site and found several problems. The measurements of some of the ingredients were different in the video than on the recipe. So I started following the comments for the recipe and found others had the same problem; no one had corrected the recipe or video- whichever was wrong.

It also seemed to me that the comments were of two types- those that seemed taken with the recipe but hadn’t really tried to make it, and those who had really tried to make it and were not complementary. There were bad comments about the taste. One person even suggested a recipe on a different web site as being better. So I decided I needed to look at that recipe.

I made that recipe, and it was a failure. So I continued research and finally found a combination of recipes that work for me.

I will also say that the original Fluffy Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake recipe had an area that I couldn’t figure out how to solve- they had the cheesecake coming out of the oven at cooking temperature and immediately being turned upside down on your hand to remove the pan and parchment paper- how to do that without getting burned badly had me stumped.

Here is a version of Japanese Cheesecake that I made and felt showed the final texture and rise of the product. I notice that almost all cooks serve the cheesecake with a sweet topping. Some are just fruit like strawberries, and others are jam glazes, or powdered sugar or a combination of these. I will use frozen strawberries as they provide moisture and sweetness.

I have decided to leave the ingredient list in international units- grams and milliliters where the measure is not a natural one. That was how I put the recipe together and had no real problem. My kitchen scale allows setting the units to grams, and the back side of my liquid measuring cup shows milliliters. If that is too big of a problem, there are conversion programs to aid in getting the units back to ounces and cups.

Japanese Cheesecake

Preparation

  • (Optional)Remove frozen strawberries from freezer to come to room temperature over-night.
  • Remove cream cheese from refrigerator to come to room temperature over-night.
  • Move oven rack to lowest position.
  • Cut parchment paper to fit a 8×3 cake pan bottom; spray the sides and bottom of the pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with the parchment paper. Wrap the bottom and sides completely in foil to prevent the water bath from oxidizing the pan. (the water bath with heat turns aluminum black so the foil protects the pan.
  • Separate 6 eggs

Mise en place

  • 9 ounces cream cheese (ouch, it comes in 8 ounce packages)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 70g granulated sugar(this is half of the total 140g)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 100 ml whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 60g cake flour
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • —————–

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 70g granulated sugar (the other half of the 140g)
    —————–

  • (Optional) Strawberries – to serve
  • (Optional) Powdered Sugar – to serve
  • (Optional) Cream Chantilly – to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C).
  2. Over a warm water bath (bain marie), whisk the cream cheese until smooth
  3. Add the egg yolks and continue to whisk
  4. Add half the sugar (70g and whisk
  5. Warm the milk and butter in the microwave or stove and whisk into the batter
  6. Add the salt and lemon juice and whisk
  7. Remove from the water bath, sift the flour and cornstarch and fold into the mixture.
  8. ————————

  9. Whisk the egg whites at low speed until foamy.
  10. Add the cream of tartar and beat at high speed till bubbles become very small but still visible
  11. Gradually add the sugar (70g)and beat till just before soft peaks form.
  12. Fold the whites into the batter 1/3 at a time.
  13. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and tap on the counter a couple times to remove air bubbles.
  14. Bake the cake on the bottommost rack in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees for 12 minutes; finally turn off trhe oven and leave the cake in the closed oven for 30 minutes. Open the door of the oven slightly at that time for 10 minutes for the cake to cool.
  15. Remove the cake from the cake pan, and remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar, and serve with a side of strawberries and Cream Chantilly. Enjoy!


I found that I was not as taken with the soft sponginess of the Japaness Cheesecake as others seem to be.

Christmas bites in Seattle

This is an annual happening; I spend the Christmas vacation time in Seattle with my muse and we eat breakfast and dinner out. Some times we eat at restaurants that have become favorites, and at other times we are exploring and experimenting with places that are new to us.

Even though we had a couple days of slick roads due to a light snowfall Christmas eve, we only missed one of our planned restaurants- a breakfast at Serious Biscuit. We always plan to eat- in all day Christmas since it is difficult to find places that are open. For our Christmas dinner my muse made a crab mac and cheese; she made it in 6 separate ramekins, but it was still a lot. We shared one of the ramekins for our dinner.

My contribution was in three parts- a box of Morning Buns, a box of cookies of different varieties, and a dozen Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. I may have eaten more than my share of the latter of those.

The box of multi-kind was similar to the ones I gave out to some local friends just before I left for Seattle. I started baking just after Thanksgiving and made a different kind almost each day. The types of cookies and candies I made and put in the boxes are: New York Times Chocolate Chip, Chocolate filled Bon Bon, Rum Ball, Karo Lace, Rocky Road, Lemon Squares, Magic Cookies, Kookie Brittle, Black Angus, Coffee Chocolate Truffle, and Honey Rum Chocolate Truffle

The last one- Honey Rum Chocolate Truffle- is referenced in the blog article for Coffee Chocolate Truffle as Alex Guarnaschelli’s Valentine’s Day Truffles

But that is not the list of restaurants we frequented. As I said, there were a lot of old friends and some new acquaintances. Our old friends included 8 oz, our go-to place for a hamburger, The Fat Hen, our place for a Eggs Benedict fix, Bakery Nouveau where not only do we have breakfast, but we pick up Kouign Amann and savory Croissants for Christmas morning and whenever. For Breakfast my muse had the Junction Croissant (​scrambled eggs bacon cheese) and I had a brown sugar and pecan Brioche. We both washed breakfast down with mochas.

Our other breakfast places included SeaTown, Skillet and a new cafe named Wild Mountain. At Seatown, ​my muse had the Fried egg sandwich (bacon, hash browns) while I had the Seatown breakfast (2 eggs sunny side up, bacon, hash browns). The thing about the hash browns is that they are made into a nice block, and then have truffle oil sprinkled on them. We both drank coffee. They leave a small pot on the table so there is plenty.

At Skillet I had the Chilaquiles and my muse had the Pork Belly-Cornmeal Waffle- my muse said the eggs were perfectly poached and the coffee was awesome Cafe Vita. I have to say, the chilaquiles were not so memorable that I can say exactly what they were.

Finally, we had a somewhat difference of opinion about Wild Mountain. We both had Bennies which met our expectations- the eggs were well poached. I had the BAT- bacon avocado & tomato while my muse had the regular. My muse didn’t like that the cafe is in a converted home, and you could still tell the different rooms- we ate in the converted dining room. Also, the furniture didn’t try to hide the converted home feeling.

The suppers I haven’t mentioned yet include new to us places of Gracia and Bastille, and other old favorites of Dalia Lounge, and Red Cow. Gracia didn’t win any awards from us; we were seated in a draft from the front door, and evidently got there before the full wait staff had arrived. As a result, we were never certain who our wait person was. The menu is like a taco place in that they come a la carte. My muse had a couple tacos and I had a taco and a tostada.
The taco was on a soft tortilla, and when I picked it up it tore through the side and I ended up eating it with a fork.

Bastille was a much better experience, and I am certain we will return again some time. I had the Lamb Daube, which is a lamb stew. and I do not remember what my muse had. I tried their flight of wines; there were three glasses- I photographed the notes for what the different wines were but the text is too small for me to read right now. I was somewhat upset that each wine was a mix of different varieties. I am use to getting just one variety in the glass when I order, such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, etc.

At Dahlia Lounge my muse had a hibiscus 75 cocktail, followed by bread salad, crab cakes with beans and greens, and dessert of donuts with marscapone and blueberry compote.
We shared Broccoli in black vinegar as well as bread & butter.
I had a martini cocktail, followed by short ribs w/carrots and mashed potatoes, Then coffee and coconut cream pie for dessert.

At Red Cow, we both had the 8 oz Wagyu Ribeye Cap.

And that is our epicurean tour of Seattle during Christmas 2017. I hope that if you find yourself in Seattle, some of our experiences will help you chose restaurants that you will find enjoyable and meeting all of your desires and criteria.

Errol

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 36 cookie
The nutty taste of brown butter, a good dark chocolate chip and a final sprinkling of salt work in concert to elevate these cookies to star status – named the best-tasting chocolate chip cookies by our expert panel.
Published in The Washington Post.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Joy Wilson of JoytheBaker.com

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalte butter, half at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • Flaky or coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Steps

  1. Melt the chilled half of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, swirling it in the pan occasionally. It’ll foam and froth as it cooks, and start to crackle and pop. Once the crackling stops, keep a close eye on the melted butter, continuing to swirl the pan often. The butter will start to smell nutty, and brown bits will form in the bottom. Once the bits are amber brown (2 1/2 to 3 minutes or so after the sizzling stops), remove the butter from the heat and immediately pour it into a small bowl, bits and all. This will stop the butter from cooking and burning. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  2. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the remaining 8 tablespoons of room-temperature butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or use a handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth (but not quite fluffy). Reduce the speed to medium-low; beat in the vanilla extract and molasses until well incorporated.
  4. Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes (medium-low), until smooth; the mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy.
  5. Reduce the speed to low; add the egg and egg yolk, beating for 1 minute, then stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the flour, kosher salt and baking soda; beat on low speed just until everything is incorporated. Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and pecans and finish incorporating all of the dry flour bits into the dough.
  6. Scoop the dough in 2-tablespoon-sized balls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the balls. Use a light two-fingered pinch to sprinkle each portion of dough with coarse or flaky sea salt.
  7. Bake (upper and lower racks) for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  8. epeat to use all the dough.

Black Truffle Chocolate Pecan Cookies

As I and my neighbor were exchanging cookies in the spirit of the season, we noticed that we both had cookies that looked alike. Mine were the Ron Paul Black Angus Cookies and hers were the Black Truffle Chocolate Pecan Cookies. I asked her for the recipe so I could see what the differences were. It is my pleasure to tell you that there are only minor differences in the recipes.

One very eerie thing about the two recipes is that they were both published by the Oregonian FOODday section on December 5th. The Black Angus on December 5, 2006 and this recipe on December 5, 2013- seven years later.

If you are really interested in this exact recipe, here is the pointer:
Black Truffle Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Since so much of the recipes are identical I am choosing to only publish the differences.

Black ruffle Chocolate Pecan Cookies

From Catherine Buford, Daily Cafe at Rejuvenation, Portland

Description

If you like chocolate with your chocolate, these cookies are for you. Former FOODday est Kitchen director Linda Faus says they’re “slightly crisp on the outside and pure chocolate and pecan goodness on the inside”

Ingredient (differences from Black Angus)

  • Instead of 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) use 11 Tablespoons (1 stick 3 Tablespoons)
  • Instead of 1/4 teaspoon salt, use Pinch salt.
  • Instead of 1 1/2 cup toasted and coarsely chopped pecans use 1 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans- no toasting.

Instructions

There are no changes to the instructions before the dropping of the dough to form the cookies.

  1. Instead of dropping 2-Tablespoon portions drop heaping Tablespoonfuls. Instead of baking 11 t0 13 minutes, bake 12 to 15 minutes.


My neighbor says that she differed from the recipe by toasting the pecans and not using as much bittersweet chocolate.

I was astonished to find that most of the recipe is word for word the same as the Black Angus recipe. But what can I say. I think the credit goes back to Ron Paul, and Catherine Buford should have only noted that she was making small changes to the recipe.

Black Angus Cookies

This is an excellent recipe for the chocolate lover. It uses coffee to accent the flavor of the chocolate. It is only missing the other item we are now seeing in recipes of cookies that contain chocolate- the sprinkle of sea salt on the dough just before baking. That could easily be fixed by the person making these wonderful cookies.

This recipe was published way back in 2006, and yet is seemed to predict a lot that is happening now in the cooking of chocolate oriented cookies. First, it starts with bittersweet chocolate. That is now available in chip form and is being used by a large number of the recipes I see. Second, this recipe melts the chocolate and butter into a smooth mixture before adding it to the rest of the wet ingredients. That also is showing up in a lot of current recipes.

Ron Paul Black Angus Cookies

from the Oregonian FOODday Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Makes 5 to 6 dozen (or less)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped (3 1/3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks; not margarine)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted and coarsely chopped pecans (1/3 pound; see note)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. In top of a double boiler over hot water, place bittersweet chocolate and butter and heat until melted, stirring occasionally; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, espresso powder and vanilla extract. Beat with a wooden spoon, or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until well-combined. Pour in the bittersweet chocolate mixture and mix well. Gently fold in the flour mixture, pecans and semisweet chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough in 2-Tablespoon portions (or using #50 scoop), 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake 11 to 13 minutes, until cookies are still shiny but are beginning to set in the cente. Do not overbake. Remove immediately to wire racks,or aluminum foil to cool.
  6. NOTE: To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch them. Or, spread on baking sheet and bake in 375 degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until brown Or, spread nuts on a paper plate on in a microwave-safe pie pan. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once.


My hint for the pecans is to toast them first, and then chop them. It is easier to toast large pieces than the many small pieces from chopping.

I find that the cookies are very slow to totally solidify. That means that if I try to take them off the baking sheet, or even the parchment paper too soon, the bottom centers stick and it makes a mess. I would recommend lining the baking sheets with parchment paper, and then pulling the parchment paper off the baking sheet and onto the cooling racks when the cookies come out of the oven. Use a new piece of parchment paper for the next batch. Take the cookies off the parchment only when they are stone cold.

Epicurean in Sacramento

For Thanksgiving 2017, my Seattle muse and I went to Sacramento California. We drove down on Tuesday, and returned on Friday; that meant we had 3 suppers and 3 breakfasts while in Sacramento. Again, my muse was excellent in picking the spots where we ate.

First, the three supper places.
Cafeteria 15L Tuesday night, we ate at this place. It seemed to be alive with a crowd. The menu was excellent and the food also.
Iron Horse This was our Wednesday evening eating place. It seemed to have the same strong crowd. We had heard that it was owned by the same people as Cafeteria 15L, but I can’s substantiate that. It too, had a good menu and excellent food.
My Nephew & his Wife’s home Thanksgiving supper was at my Nephew’s home. He and is wife did an excellent job of putting all the normal goodies together for an unforgettable meal. There was more than enough food, and all of the favorites. My nephew had smoked both a turkey and a pork butt. Then there were both mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with marshmallows. And dressing, rolls, and a Brussels sprout salad. For dessert, there were three pies that we had brought as our contribution to the meal.

Before we went to Sacramento, I had emailed and asked if we could contribute something such as dessert, and I was thinking pies that we could pick up on Wednesday while things were still open. There was agreement, and both the suggestion of a place to get the pies and the types that would be liked. The place was a store named Ikedas and we found it in Auburn just east of Sacramento. We ordered and reserved our pies before leaving home. When we got to the store, it was booming with people buying pies. Luckily we had reserved ours.

For Breakfast, we went to the following three places:
Wednesday morning, we went to The Tower which is across from the Zoo. This is an entirely different, eclectic place. There are trees growing around the outside seating. If this is the only place you get to eat, I strongly recommend it both for the food and for the atmosphere.
The Grange I thought Thanksgiving day would be a problem, but my muse came through and found this restaurant open for Breakfast. It is associated with the Citizen Hotel, and across from Cesar Chavez Plaza. Like most hotel restaurants, it has a sense of elegance. It was a very comfortable place to eat and had a nice menu.
Finally, our last morning we ate at The Waffle Experience. This is a chain of restaurants and we wondered what it was like. They use waffles for all sorts of bread items. My Benedict used a waffle for the English muffin, and another item used the waffle for a croissant. We also noticed that they used waffles for the bread in sandwiches- one on top and one on bottom.

Sacramento did not fail us when it came to good eating.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

After making these cookies, I put them in tupperware containers and refrigerated them. When I got them out to make my Christmas boxes of different varieties of cookies, I ate one and discovered that the center wasn’t nice and soft and gooey as my muse had wanted, but was rather firm. I think there could be several reasons why.

  1. This is my new oven, and maybe the temperature isn’t as the readout says. I don’t think this is the problem because on another cookie, it seemed under-cooked instead of over-cooked
  2. I cooked the full suggested 18 minutes for refrigerated dough; perhaps that is wrong.
  3. Maybe refrigeration has something to do with it; could the centers dry out even when in a tupperware container?

I will be trying this recipe again in the future, and if I can determine a cause, I will add a not to this page.


My Seattle muse brought this version of a chocolate chip cookie to my attention. She liked how the center of the cookie was soft, and of course the salt on the cookie also makes it taste good. I searched around and found a basic recipe, but as I got into it, I found a lot of issues to resolve. Hopefully all those are resolved in this version of the recipe.

In some sense this cookie reminds me of the Pub cookies in that it is very large- it could be larger than the 4 inch diameter that I made- and is ideal for walking around and crunching as you take life easy and enjoy your surroundings.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Developed by Jacque Torres

Written up by David Leite

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup Plus 2 Tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups minus 2 Tablespoons (8 ½ ounces) cake flour*
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 ½ ounces) bread flour*
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 ¼ pounds (20 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, at least 60 % cacao content
  • sea salt, to sprinkle

* instead of 8 ½ ounces cake flour, substitute 2 cups AP flour, then use only 1 cup bread flour

Instructions

  1. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, mising welll after each addition.
  3. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  4. Turn the mixer on low. Add both flours, the baking soda and baking powder, the salt and chocolate to the mixture in the mixer bowl.Mix only until the flour is no longer visible.
  5. Scoop 3 1/2 ounce mounds of dough onto baking sheets.*
  6. Refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours
  7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Flatten each dough mound slightly and sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Bake for 18 minutes.
  10. The cookies are done when a crust has formed and the edges are slightly crispy. The middle of the cookie will fall after removed from the oven and cooled.

The dough may be frozen for a month, or refrigerated for up to 5 days if covered tightly.

*The baking sheets may be covered with either parchment paper or silicon mats if desired. Or the cookies can be placed directly on the baking sheets. Do not grease the baking sheets.

A 3 1/2 ounce scoop would be a #9; I used a #20 scoop and was able to get only 4 cookies on a baking sheet. The cookies expand; my final cookies were about 4 inches in diameter.

Macarons

I felt challenged to make macarons for my friend. A lot of people call these macaroons, or French macaroons, but they are distinct and very different from the macaroon cookie. I tell people that they are a take-off of the Oreo cookie, but of course, they came first so maybe the take-off is in the other direction.

The recipe seems simple enough- only 4 ingredients in the basic recipe, and then you add food coloring and extract flavoring. The basic recipe is to make an meringue, and then fold it into a mix of almond flour and powdered sugar to create the dough. The dough is piped onto baking sheets, and cooked. These finished ‘cookies’ or shells are coupled together and filled- as I say, like Oreo cookies.

But, although the recipe is fairly straight forward, it has a lot of subjective decision points, and those make it difficult to learn. I made the recipe 5 times and threw it all in the trash before I got a handle on all the issues.

Macarons

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour

Directions

  1. Mix the almond flour and powdered sugar and sift them into a 2-quart bowl.
  2. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they are starting to foam. Add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until there are stiff peaks.
  3. Fold the egg white meringue into the sifted flour/sugar mixture to create the dough. Continue to fold the dough until the dough is smooth enough to flow.
  4. Fill a piping bag with a ½ inch opening with the dough, and pipe the shells onto a lined cookie sheet. Let the piped shells stand at room temperature until a hard skin is formed on top; about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  6. Bake the shells until they are set, but not browned- about 10 – 15 minutes.
  7. Let the shells cool completely with the baking sheets on the cooling rack before trying to remove them and filling them.

In the photo, the darker macarons were from the first batch that I felt was anywhere near a success. I got 6 shells from that batch which was only about a 20% yield. However, I then was able to correct the last couple parameters and start getting 90% yields from a recipe that made 40 shells. If you look closely at the photo, you will see a fringe-like layer at the bottom of the shell; this is know as feet. A proper shell has feet. These shells were filled with nutella, and you can see it showing with some of the macarons.

Starting at the first of the recipe, these are the issues I found, and the way I finally set the parameters.
1)Sifting the flour/sugar mixture can be difficult in high humid weather. As a starting point, I would suggest waiting for drier weather to learn how to make the shells.
2)I decided that the meringue was complete when the peaks made by lifting the whip stood straight up, and the tips of the peaks did not bend over. Don’t go much beyond this stage as it will dry the meringue and it will not incorporate with the flour/sugar mixture properly.
3)When the folding has gotten to the point that all of the flour/sugar mixture is wet, you can add flavoring and color to the shells. For color, use 2 – 3 drops of a gel food coloring, and for flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon of an extract. There seems to be some agreement on when the folding is complete: it is called the figure 8 test. The dough should be liquid enough to flow off the spatula as a continuous ribbon with which you can make a figure 8, but not so liquid as the start of the 8 disappears before the full figure is formed.
4)Most of us have 12 inch piping bags; these are a problem in that they do not hold all of the dough and so they need to be refilled. I finally went to the Decorette Shop and bought some 18 inch bags and so had much less fuss piping.
5)I did not use any special piping tips with the piping bag, but just cut the tip of the bag off. To get the 1/2 inch diameter opening, I measured up to the point where the distance between the two sides of the flattened bag was 1 inch and cut. If I remember my math, the 1 inch is half the circumference and the circumference is Pi * diameter meaning the diameter is 2 / pi, or about 2/3 inch- slightly larger than the 1/2 specified in the recipe, but it works.
6)In order to get constant size shells, you need a guide. I drew circles with a compass on a separate couple sheets of paper as that guide. Then I placed the guide under my silicon mats to do the piping, and pulled the guide papers out once I had the shells piped. My circles are 1.5 inches in diameter and placed so that their centers are 3 inches apart. Once they were drawn, I inked the circles and their centers with a black marker pen.
7)Another test that the dough is soft enough is that the nipple from piping disappears; the top of the shell should be smooth. I had a few nipples but most of the shells were smooth.
8)If you don’t wait long enough for the skin of the shell to form, the shell will not have feet. It is the rise of the dough in the oven locked in by the skin that causes the feet to form.
9)After having too many shells that were starting to brown, I decided to shield the baking sheet completely from the upper element of the oven. I put a piece of foil on a rack leaving only the side edges uncovered, weighted it down with an empty baking sheet, and put the rack on the position just above where the shells are cooking.
10)If the shells are not cooked long enough, or not completely cooled they will separate when they are removed from the silicon mat or parchment paper. The bottom of the shell will stick to the lining of the cookie sheet.

Now that you have the macaron shells, you can consider how to fill them to complete the cookies. I found that flavored ganaches seemed to work best. I also tried jams with cream cheese as a binder; I had a mess with that in that I used too much jam and it didn’t all harden. And as I show in the photo, you can use things like Nutella.

For cream cheese based fillings use 4 ounces of softened cream cheese with 3 Tablespoons of jam.

For ganache based fillings use 3 ounces of chocolate to 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream. Add 1/4 teaspoon of extract flavoring and 1 drop of gel food coloring if desired.

Macaroons

Recently, I was asked to make some macaroons; I think they really wanted me to make macarons, but I looked for a macaroon recipe and made these little cookies. They are really quite siimple. A couple years ago I made Coconut Macaroons and wrote an article then. That recipe used sweetened condensed milk as the binding agent, whereas this recipe uses meringue. Otherwise, the recipes are very similar

The recipe comes from Alton Brown and the Food Network.

Toasty Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

  • one 14-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread the coconut out in a single layer on a half sheet pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the coconut is golden. Set on a cooling rack to cool.
  3. Whip the egg whites and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer on high for 8 to 10 minutes until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and salt. The egg whites and sugar can also be whipped in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the toasted coconut
  5. Drop by the tablespoon onto a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan, leaving 1 to 2 inches around each cookie. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown


That is the recipe, and now I need to explain how I actually made the cookies.

In my old oven, the coconut did not evenly cook, and so even with stirring, there were pieces that were much darker than others. I used my stand mixer to whip the egg white. I used my #60 scoop to measure and drop the cookies onto my cookie sheets covered with silicone pads.

I got 3 1/2 dozen cookies. I found the best cooking time was just over 15 minutes, but short of 17 minutes. The old oven is funny that it seems to cook a second pan faster than the first pan, so I have to generally reduce the time by about a minute after the first batch is cooked.

Epicurean Tours and back to cooking

It has been too long since I have added an article to this web site, so I am covering a couple things all at once. One item is the good restaurants at which my Seattle muse and I have eaten over the last year, and the second item is the recipes on which I have been working.

Let me explain that I had to stop some of my cooking experiments for a long while since I injured a leg and had a hard time standing for more than a few minutes at a time. Actually, before that, I had a scare with my blood glucose level while I was working on the Kouign Aman recipes and eating too many of the mistakes. So I really shut down for most of a year without baking.

This last month my Seattle muse gave me a few ideas for cookies and I know she likes Morning Buns so since I was standing better-(without a cane)- I decided to make her the Morning Buns and some of the cookies she had mentioned to me. The cookies were Kookie Brittle, the Ron Paul Black Angus and the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies. Neither of those latter two cookie recipes are on this web site just yet; I am having trouble with down loading my camera to the computer and want to get pictures to go with the recipes.

And when we were enjoying the Morning Buns, it occurred to us both that they seemed tight and we would like them to be softer and larger. So I am also experimenting with that idea. My first attempts have proved to be failures. But I have to eat my mistakes before I try again.

Taking my baked goods to Seattle to share with my muse is only the start of our fun when I am there. We also like to eat at different restaurants to see what they are like. I just looked back, and it has been 2 years since I mentioned the restaurants to which we went. I will try to capture some of what I should have mentioned a year ago or so. In general, we are trying to eat at the restaurants of Tom Douglas or of Ethan Stowell. Both these restauranteurs have proven to have multiple, excellent places. We started with Tom Douglas’s places and many are still our favorites. This recent trip had us going back to Catina Lena and Seatown.

Since we eat out every day, we limit ourselves to breakfast and supper, with a few snacks. Most recently for breakfast, I tried to see if any place could do better Eggs Benedict than our favorite Fat Hen. I think a close second would be Petit Toulouse. I also tried them at Salmon Bay and felt it was a good place to repeat for breakfast. I have to admit that at some place where I had eggs benedict, the eggs were over cooked and not runny. I do not remember at this time where that was- maybe Seatown? After a few mornings of eggs benedict, they all start to seem the same. However, we both decided that Fat Hen was the best, but you want to go on a week day and within the first hour after their opening at 8AM or you are going to wait for a table.

For our supper tour, I need to mention only a few places that are worth your time. First, if you want a hamburger, go to a place with the simple name of 8 oz. It beats all of the pub hamburgers we have tried hands down. Most of the places we try are okay, but not home runs. We always seem to get back to Catina Lena for at least one meal; that is a Tom Douglas place. Another Tom Douglas place we totally enjoyed and surprisingly was not overly expensive is The Carlile Room. And a couple Eathan Stowell restaurants we recommend would include Red Cow and Staple & Fancy. Mindy thinks we have never had steak as good as that at Red Cow and we go back there often. Staple & Fancy was a new experience for us and was very interesting. They ave a Chef’s Tasting Menu, which we tried and it must have had a dozen items before it was time to order Pasta and Secundo. It was truly an enjoyable experience.

I think that terminates the epicurean tour of Seattle for this time. I will try to keep better track of the places worth visiting the next time I take the tour which should be in December. Meanwhile, when I solve the camera /computer failure, I will start putting the new cookie recipes, and corrections to old recipes up on the web site.