Flavor-of-the-Month . . . Amaretto Madeleines

Welcome to Flavor-of-the-Month, boozy edition!

My favorite drink in the whole wide world is an Amaretto Sour. Even though I'm too lazy to make them very often, I try to keep a bottle of Amaretto in the house at all times, just in case. So, when contemplating Boozy Edition, it was calling to me.

Take a look at this Amaretto I found. Read the label...

"Made by infusion of...cookies!!!" Now, this is my kind of liqueur!

Madeleines are, to me, like a combination of cookie and cake...how can that be wrong? And did anyone else read the Madeleine books growing up? I loved those books and making these made me think of...

"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines,
lived twelve little girls in two straight lines..."

Amaretto Madeleines with Amaretto-Vanilla Bean Glaze
(makes 22 madeleines)

10 TBSP unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2/3 c sugar
1/2 salt
3 eggs, room temp.
2 tsp Amaretto
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1 c flour, sifted

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Simmer gently until the butter deepens slightly and there are small flecks of brown in the butter, about 5 minutes.

{Browning butter always makes me nervous!}

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Beat the sugar, salt and eggs several minutes until they are light yellow and thickened. Stir in the Amaretto and vanilla bean paste.

Gently fold in the flour and butter in 3 additions each, alternating between the two. Refrigerate the batter for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Brush the madeleine pan with melted butter.

Fill the pans with 1 heaping tablespoon of dough per cookie. Bake 12 minutes until the edges are light brown.

Let cool in the pan 5 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

If making these in 2 batches, let the pan cool completely. Wipe out the cookie molds and re-coat with melted butter.

Amaretto-Vanilla Bean Glaze

1 & 1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3 TBSP whole milk (or whatever you have on hand, lower fat will make a thinner glaze)
2 TBSP Amaretto
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Whisk to combine all of the ingredients.

Place the madeleines on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet. (This will catch the glaze and make for easier clean-up.)

Spoon glaze over the cooled cookies.

Flavor-of-the-Month February will be CHOCOLATE!!! Oh, I can't wait!!!

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The Game of Love

I just love hearing about couples getting engaged...don't you? Just the thought of a new marriage, a new family...and well, the wedding cake, makes me turn to mush.

My cousin Meg got engaged last month...yay! Now, I have 9 younger cousins...just on one side of the family. Hearing about their engagements is always exciting, but this one was especially thrilling because I've actually gotten a chance to get to know her *now* fiance....and he is such GREAT GUY!

{ok, first...how adorable are they?!?}

Let me tell you a just little about Meg & Sean:
♥Meg is about 12 years younger than I am. She used to write to me in college...telling me about how she would get up before school to do "Mousercise" (Mickey Mouse jazzercise) and writing out songs she had composed....at age 7! (As I remember, there were a lot of "Ooo, baby's" in the lyrics!) I think she is the most stylish person I know!
♥Sean was the first person my son ever met who owned an iPhone. And he let him PLAY WITH IT...that promoted him to "cool" right there. He plays guitar and sings and...Sean is also a SCRABBLE Champion. And that's where the cookies come in.

{Seriously, now...don't you think the "blank" tile in Scrabble should be a heart ♥? I can picture it now....Scrabble, the Valentine Edition...a pink and red board with little heart tiles. *I* would buy one!}

The cookies:
My original thought (a year and a half ago when I met Sean and had a feeling this day was coming) was to make a cookie Scrabble board. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get it to look quite right, so I made Scrabble cookie tiles.

Using my bench scraper, I divided square cookies into fourths.

I jazzed up my usual cookie recipe with 3/4 tsp vanilla bean paste in place of the 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Since they were smaller, I cut the baking time down by 2 minutes.

To decorate:

♥Outline each cookie with a #2 tip in ivory (AmeriColor Ivory).
♥Thin the royal icing with water, stirring in a teaspoon at a time until it is the consistency of a thick syrup. Cover with a damp dish towel and let sit for several minutes.
♥Stir gently with a rubber spatula to pop any air bubbles that have formed on the top and transfer to a squeeze bottle.

♥Fill in the cookies with the thinned icing. Use a toothpick to guide into the corners.
♥Let sit for at least 1 hour.

♥Using a #2 tip pipe the letters in black icing (AmeriColor Super Black).
{I tried to get as close the the Scrabble letters as possible.}

♥Switch to a #1 tip and add the point value for the letters in the corners.
♥With red icing and a #3 tip, pipe hearts on several of the cookies.

♥Let dry overnight and package.

{Wouldn't these be darling for Valentine's Day?}

Congratulations & best wishes Meg & Sean! Here's to a ♥sweet♥ life together! Cheers!

Related posts:
Yes, I said Yes! Engagement Cookies
For June Brides...
Valentine Cookies with va-va-va-vanilla

*updated...thank you all so much for your sweet comments, emails and tweets about my Nana, Marge. they meant so much to me!*

Chocolate Sorbet- Vegan and Dairy-Free

Rich chocolate sorbet- without dairy. Pass the spoon.

Two trends are sneaking in to recipe searches this week. The first? Super bowl recipes. You know, guy-style chicken chili and Crock-Pot crowd pleasers. Party food for the Big Game. Guacamole and hummus. Nachos. The second trend is a search closer to my own heart and its tender sensibilities.  You may have already guessed it. Because you, Wonderful Reader, are smart, savvy and, well. Let's just gush a minute with appreciation. You are downright fabulous (with impeccable taste and discernment, I might add).

The second big trend is a search for romantic recipes and Valentine's Day inspiration. You're not surprised, are you? (See, I knew you were brilliant).

I'd much rather conjure up chocolate recipes than beans and burgers. Sexy food is more interesting than AstroTurf and lines of scrimmage and backfields in motion. And what the Hail Mary is a down, anyway? First down, fourth down. All these downs and off sides. It makes my head spin.

Continue reading

In Memory of Marge . . .

When my uncle's call came yesterday, it wasn't a surprise. My grandmother had been sick with Alzheimer's and lung cancer for a while now. Almost ten years after we lost my mom, Nana is joining her and my grandfather....wouldn't that be cool if they greeted her with a Goldie's Hamburger? ;)

{This is Nana with my mom, 1945.}

My Nana's picture just might be in your dictionary under the word "character." She went to mass every morning and her favorite word was "sh@#." {That's the truth.} She was the craziest dancer at every wedding (though, my Uncle Mike & my sister are running neck & neck for that title now).

{This was always the picture I would stare at when I visited. I love this picture!}

She was in the Women's Army Corps in WWII and she and my papa got engaged at Pat O'Briens in New Orleans. {No wonder I like those Hurricanes so much!}

{Here we are in 1979. Nana had that same hair-do for 40 years. I'm on the left. Knee socks & sandals were high fashion apparently.}

Now, to me, Marge wasn't known as a cook or a baker. I remember her with a crochet hook in her hand rather than in the kitchen. But every time we visited, there were always two cream pies in the fridge...always chocolate and either lemon or coconut. She was famous for her "macaroni & meat" (pasta, tomato sauce and ground beef....totally kid heaven) and made a mean whiskey sour.

So, I made a Chocolate Cream Pie in her honor.

Chocolate Cream Pie

{Recipe modified from Food & Wine magazine}

6 ounces, about 1 & 1/2 c. Oreos (just the wafer part), or chocolate wafer cookies
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°.

Using a food processor, finely grind the Oreo cookies (not the creamy centers...do with them what you will).

In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with the sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

Pour the mixture into a 9-inch glass pie dish and press evenly over the bottom and up the side of the dish to form a crust. Bake for 8 minutes, until the crust is fragrant.

Remove from the oven and, using the bottom of a drinking glass, immediately press the crumbs again to compact the crust. (brilliant idea from F&W!) Let cool completely.

make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and salt. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with 1/4 cup of the sugar until bubbles form around the edge. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture.

Pour into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate until smooth. Strain the chocolate filling into the pie crust through a coarse sieve (this does not work with a fine sieve, I tried!) and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.

Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie filling and refrigerate for 3 hours, until chilled.

{Nana made this ♥ doily!}

Let the pie stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla until firm. Spread the whipped cream over the pie, cut into wedges and serve, garnished with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Nana...we will miss you. The dance floor at the next family wedding won't be the same without you. And, I'll think of you the next time I say, "sh@#"...it shouldn't be long.

{Works for Me Wednesday and the "troubleshooting" post will be back next week.}

May the Force be with you . . .

The kiddo had a Star Wars birthday party last weekend. Only 6 kids came over and I still feel like I'm in recovery mode!

Actually...it was really fun. No injuries, although my husband almost lost an eye with a projectile from the pinata. I'll spare you the details.

But, you will get the details on the sweets. Let's start with the R2D2 cookies....

I'm always reluctant to do "characters." I tried my hardest to channel these Star Wars cookies from Sugar Belle, but didn't quite get there.

These were the party favors. I mean, as if cake, ice cream, punch and candy from the pinata aren't enough...send the kids home with a little more sugar!!! You are welcome, parents! ;)

The plan was for the cookies to say "May the Force be with you." I couldn't get it to fit.

Can you see that sparkle in the background? I love it! I used my new disco dust. I didn't want the entire background to be glittery, so I brushed this on the DRY background (IE: the cookies had dried overnight) to make it look like the sky.

On to the cake....now the girls on my cake decorating team for NYC are about to get nervous because I am not a cake decorator! You'll soon see.

I made an R2D2 from candy melts and royal icing. Then, the Star Wars cake was inspired by the lovely multi-colored cakes from Amanda of i am baker. My son said he wanted red and blue layers...something about good and bad lightsabers.

{So, R2 didn't sit exactly flat on the cake...the boys didn't seem to notice!}

{These candles were supposed to have a blue flame...not as cool as they looked on the box.}

Want to see the inside??!?!

Cool, right?

I tried to get a few more pictures of the inside, but hungry boys just don't understand, "Wait about 10 minutes while I put this cake in the light box near the "good window" and take a picture from every angle." Geez.

The layers are just white cake mix with blue and red food coloring. (Each cake mix made 2 layers and I used AmeriColor Royal Blue and AmeriColor Super Red.)

This frosting was incredible...right from the back of the cocoa can (I used Hershey's Special Dark, or dutch-process cocoa).

(from Hershey's...I doubled this recipe)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa, Special Dark or regular
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

I used 3/4 c. frosting between each layer and used the rest to cover the top and sides.

Jedis...I leave you with a picture of Dog Vader. May the Force be with YOU!