Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Being thankful / being thoughtful pt. 5 - Sweets

Sweet goodies
A* and I have a long history of making sweets as gifts; every season, we've stayed up far, far too late and made a wide variety of skill-testing treats, and this is a practice that we also included when we planned our wedding in February of 2010. This year, we made less of a variety than usual, but definitely found at least one keeper recipe (all of them are good, but the apple cider caramels are amazingly simple and have a short, great list of ingredients).

Apple Cider Caramels
I don't think that Deb Perelman has ever been wrong about anything kitchen-wise. While I often tweak her recipes (I tend to want more spice than she does), this one is perfect as-is, though also delicious, I discovered quite by forgetful accident, even with the cinnamon and salt omitted. We have access to some lovely unpasteurized apple cider here in WNY, but even if you have to use the kind you find at the supermarket, these are tangy and delicious. And it is nice to be able to make a caramel without corn syrup (since the reduction of apple cider ends up creating all the syrup you need).

Macarons Two Ways (Spicy Citrus + Salted Caramel)
I got a bit obsessed with Pierre Hermé's Macarons book and learning how to make these fiddly, wonderful confections. The test batch came out beautifully - everything went right, and I felt a bit like an alchemist, creating golden buttery just-crispy enough and perfectly flat-toppped goodness in my own kitchen.

Unfortunately, the "gift" batches were still tasty, but not nearly as pretty. Apparently I had beginner's luck with those first magical cookies, but got a bit overconfident with the second batch. Regardless, they were tasty enough, and being reminded to be a bit humble (and not requiring that all things be "perfect" to be giftable) is probably not a bad thing. I created the flavoring for the Citrus Spice filling: organic tangerines and oranges, very tart, plus grated peel, grated ginger root, and clove, plus white chocolate and cream. I overdid it on the cream and ended up with a lovely glaze but a not-thick-enough filling. If I ever perfect the texture, I'll bring the recipe back here.

Twice-baked shortbread cookies

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