Gourmet Baked Goods

http://citrusspicebakery.com (801) 923-4117 citrusspicebakery@gmail.com

Custom wedding and party cakes, cupcakes, sugar cookies, and French macarons.

All my products are made to be the most delicious you've ever eaten! Painstakingly tested recipes, innovative baking techniques, and the very best ingredients set them apart. Premium chocolates, Madagascar vanilla beans, real butter, fresh fruit, and premium toasted nuts.

Everything I make is from scratch, including my fondant, sugar paste and modeling chocolate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Daring Baker's Challenge June 2012

This month, I joined a group called the Daring Bakers, and once a month they have a challenge.  All the members have to make the challenge item, and then post about it. This month, the member who was supposed to come up with the challenge was unable to, so Mandy of What the Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake Challenge!  She highlighted Mary Berry's techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

First, I made the traditional cake, which had to have 2 different colored cakes (traditionally pink and yellow) with jam in between to hold it together, and then wrapped in either marzipan or fondant.  I made vanilla and strawberry cakes with strawberry jam, and rolled buttercream fondant for mine.

It came out a little bit crooked, but I realized why, and how to fix it, and so for my next Battenberg foray, I went for something different... coconut and lime cakes with key lime filling between them, coconut buttercream on the outside, and lots of shredded sweetened coconut.

As you can see, this time I got it all perfectly straight and even.  It was just delicious too.  As I have posted before, coconut cake is my favorite of all cakes!  The tangy lime added a nice zing, too!

So, that was my first ever Daring Baker's Challenge... I am looking forward to the next one!

Happy Birthday to ME!

OK, OK, my birthday is actually December 27, but my husband and I decided to move it to June 27 last year, and it has been a really good change.

When I was a kid, having my birthday on December 27 was no big deal.  My mom did an excellent job of making sure my birthday was definitely separate from Christmas, and I didn't mind having it be so close one bit.  My sister's birthday is December 29, so we were both in the same boat!  But, now that I have my own family and three children, the holidays have gotten a lot more chaotic, and by the time my birthday rolls around, I am tired of hauling my kids around, eating rich food, and I just want to do nothing.  But, that's not very fun for a birthday!  Celebrating on June 27th, I can be excited about it instead of feeling tired out.  Plus... it's in the summer, so I can make this for myself:

Ah, delicious, crisp-butter crust, sweet, creamy, cool vanilla pastry cream, and fresh, sweet-tart summer fruit.  Yes, it is wonderful to have a June birthday!

Shortbread Pastry Crust

1 1/4 cup (6 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
1 stick (4 ounces) slightly softened unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup (2 ounces) granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3 teaspoons cold water

Heat oven to 375. Place flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add butter and pulse 10 times.  Add vanilla and turn to "on." Add water one teaspoon at a time just until the dough starts to stick to itself a bit.  Turn out onto a floured countertop and knead until smooth.  Roll out to a 12 inch circle, then roll the dough up onto your rolling pin and unroll over a 9 inch tart pan.  Lift the sides of the dough and lower down into the pan.  Cut the dough flush with the top of the pan and prick the bottom all over with a fork.  Bake 16-20 minutes until golden and fragrant.  Cool completely before filling.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baby Shower Cupcakes

It is a good week to have a baby shower, apparently, and my dear friend, Allison, had a baby shower for her soon-to-arrive baby boy!  When I received her cute invitation, I knew right away that I wanted to create something for her to match it.  The invitation was done in cream, brown, green, red, and blue, and had the cutest little jungle animals on it.  So, I made her chocolate cupcakes filled with raspberry custard and frosted with whipped chocolate raspberry ganache.  To go on top, I made little molded baby jungle animals in red, blue, and green.  I was lucky to find some cute scrapbook paper that matched the invitation colors perfectly, and I wrapped each cupcake in the paper.  They came out so cute, and tasted amazing!  Congratulations, Allison!  You will be the most amazing mom!

Raspberry Curd

1 bag (12 ounces) frozen raspberries, thawed
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Puree the raspberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, pressing with a spatula to extract as much juice as possible.  Discard the seeds and clean the strainer.  Stir in the lemon juice and sugar, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often to dissolve sugar.  Whisk egg yolks and cornstarch together in a medium bowl until fully combined.  Use a measuring cup to drizzle 1/4 cup of the simmering raspberry mixture into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly.  Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan, whisking constantly.  The mixture will thicken quickly.  Continue whisking for 30 seconds more, then remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.  Strain the curd into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd.  Refrigerate 4 hours before using.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Baby Shower Cake

My wonderful sister-in-law found out she was expecting by surprise!  This will be her sixth child... her fifth is 10 years old!  I made her a delicious six-layer raspberry cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream for her baby shower, which we had to throw for her, since she was done having kids years ago, and had consequently gotten rid of all her baby stuff!  When my husband saw the cake, he said I should have written "Condolences, Christy" instead of "Congratulations, Christy!"  But really, we are all very happy for her and the precious baby girl to soon join our family!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut cake is my favorite kind of cake.  It seems to be a love it or hate it kind of flavor, and I am definitely a lover!  I made these cute little coconut cupcakes with cream of coconut inside the cake itself and in the frosting to give them a wonderful sweet coconut flavor.  Some people like to toast the coconut on top, but I like it soft, so I left it beautifully snow-white!  

Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
pinch salt
4 sticks (16 ounces) unsalted butter, soft, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 cup cream of coconut

Place egg whites, vanilla, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and gently whisk over simmering water until sugar dissolves and mixture is 150 degrees, about 3-5 minutes. Place bowl on mixer and whip on high speed 7 minutes. Scrape down bowl. On medium speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, counting 10 seconds between additions. Mixture may look curdled. Increase speed to high and whip until it smooths out. Beat in cream of coconut until fully combined.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Caramel Turtle Cheesecake

Just imagine it... Cheesecake with a layer of dulce de leche, a layer of rich dark chocolate ganache, and then topped with toasted pecans.  Here's a napkin for your drool...

Dulce De Leche

4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put the milk, sugar, corn syrup, baking soda and salt in a large, heavy-duty saucepan or Dutch oven. Place over medium to medium-high heat and bring just to a boil. Watch carefully, and as soon as the milk begins to foam up, stir with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, and reduce heat until the milk is just at a low rolling boil. (If the milk foams up too much, remove the saucepan from the heat until the foam starts to subside. Then return to heat.)

Continue to cook the milk, stirring the bottom and sides of the saucepan frequently, until the mixture becomes very thick and sticky and caramel colored (this will take about 40 - 60 minutes). It is important to frequently stir the milk so it does not burn. Adjust the heat as necessary, you want the milk to be at a low rolling boil.

Note: There are several stages the milk goes through during the cooking process. When the milk first comes to a boil there is a lot of foam. Eventually the foam subsides and after about 15 minutes, you will notice that the milk turns a light beige color. As it continues to cook, the milk thickens and gets darker and darker in color. The more you cook the Dulce de Leche, the thicker and more caramel colored it will become. Once the Dulce de Leche has been reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, it is ready.

Remove from heat and strain, if necessary. Stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool before covering and storing. The Dulce de Leche can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a month.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Cake

I made this cake for Father's Day for my father-in-law.  It has six chocolate and raspberry cake layers with raspberry buttercream and a rich dark chocolate ganache glaze!  I just love to make these sky high multi-flavored creations!

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

4 ounces dark chocolate chips, 65% cacao or more
4 ounces heavy whipping cream

Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl.  Heat cream in the microwave in a glass liquid measuring cup until it just starts to bubble - watch very carefully - about 1 minute.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit 2 minutes.  Whisk until smooth, cover with plastic wrap and cool to lukewarm but still liquid, 30 minutes.  Place your cake in the freezer 10 minutes prior to coating.  Pour ganache glaze with a circular motion over the top of the cake.  Use an offset spatula to spread the ganache to the edge and over the sides.  Place cake back in the freezer for 5 minutes to set the ganache.  

Raspberries and Cream Cake

My first order!  This cake was ordered for a Father's Day party.  It has six layers of raspberry cake and white cake inside, with vanilla and raspberry French buttercream swirled together on the outside and layered within.  Humongous and tall... the way a layer cake should be!

Raspberry Cake
makes 2 nine-inch layers

5 large egg whites and 1 whole egg, room temperature
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 scraped vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
9 ounces cake flour
12 ounces granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 12 pieces

Heat oven to 350. Grease, line, and flour 2 nine-inch cake pans. Puree raspberries in a food processor or blender until you have a smooth puree.  Strain into a medium saucepan, pressing with a spatula to get out as much juice as possible.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir raspberry puree and milk together in a liquid measuring cup.  Add egg whites and egg, vanilla, vanilla beans, and almond extract to the milk mixture and whisk together. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in mixing bowl. Mix dry ingredients with paddle attachment on low until combined. Add softened butter and beat on medium until butter pieces are smaller than peas. Increase speed to medium high and pour in all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture. Let mix until smooth, 1 minute. Pour in remaining milk mixture and beat 1 more minute. Divide evenly among cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, cover with plastic wrap, and cool completely, 1 hour.

Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cakes

Layer cakes are so dramatic and exciting, but sometimes it can be more fun to make mini individual desserts!  I made mini chocolate raspberry layer cakes for my step-dad for Father's Day.  These are so much fun.  About the size of a cupcake, but a lot fancier.  I made a moist, rich, dark chocolate sheet cake and cut it into rounds with a large cookie cutter, then stacked the rounds with mounds of delicious European buttercream, flavored with pureed raspberries.  It would be fun to make these with more than one kind of cake for extra drama!

Chocolate Sheet Cake

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 ounces Dutch-processed cocoa powder
12 ounces boiling water
7 ½ ounces unbleached all purpose flour
10 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking soda
6 fluid ounces vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line one 17 by 13 half sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot water over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Spread batter evenly in the pan. Bake until cake is set and just firm to touch, 15-20 minutes. Cool cake in pans until room temperature. Carefully remove cake from pans and use a 4 inch round cookie cutter to cut 24 rounds.  Stack and sandwich with buttercream.

Key Lime Cheesecake

I love cheesecake - it is definitely one of my favorite desserts.  I prefer New York style - thick, creamy, tangy, sweet... this dessert just has it all.  The best part is, you can modify the recipe and create dozens of amazing variations.  For my dad, for Father's Day, I made a key lime cheesecake.  I used real fresh squeezed lime juice and zest in the cheesecake, and then made a tangy lime curd to go on top, with some sweeteened freshly whipped cream and lime slices to top it all off.  It was tangy, sweet, and wonderful!

Key Lime Cheesecake

2/3 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, soft, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup lime curd, store bought or homemade
4 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with baking spray. Use a food processor to pulse together the flour and sugar for the crust. Add the butter and vanilla and turn the processor on. Let it run 30 seconds. Turn the crumbly dough out into the springform pan and press it evenly on the bottom only. Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly golden.

While the crust bakes, wash and dry your food processor. Add one package of cream cheese, the cornstarch, and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Run the processor until it is smooth. Add the remaining cream cheese and sugar and run until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs and vanilla. Run until smooth. Add the cream and 1/2 cup of the lime curd. Pulse 5 times just to combine, do not overmix. Pour filling over the cooked crust. Place the springform pan inside a reynold's oven turkey roasting bag and roll down the sides of the bag to be level with the top of the pan. Place the bagged pan into a 12 inch cake pan. Boil 3 cups of water in the microwave in a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup, about 3 minutes, watching carefully. Pour the boiling water into the cake pan, so it comes halfway up the bagged springform pan. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake 1 hour. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door and let it sit in the oven 1 hour. Remove the springform pan from the bag and run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake from the sides, but leave the sides on. Refrigerate overnight. Pull it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter 1-2 hours before serving. Remove the sides of the pan and cut into 12 wedges with a very sharp knife, wiping the knife on a hot rag between cuts. 

Cherry Pie

Cherry pie is my husband's favorite dessert, so every year on Father's day, I make him one with fresh cherries, which happen to be in season right on time!  I only make this pie once a year, because it is quite a pain to stem, pit, and halve two pounds of cherries!  It is so delicious, though, I think it is worth it!  I also made one for my grandfather and my mom's new husband.

Sweet Cherry Pie 

Unbaked 9 inch double pie crust
2 pounds sweet black cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca
pinch salt
juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat oven to 400 with a baking sheet on the lower middle rack. Stir together cherries, sugar, tapioca, salt, amd lemon juice in a large bowl. Trasfer to dough-lined 9-inch pie pan. Top with second half of pie dough. Pinch and crimp edges to seal, and cut slits to vent. Place pie on the baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 30 minutes longer. Cool 4 hours before serving.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Birthday Cake for Mom

My fantastic mother had a birthday this week, although remarkably, she didn't get any older... and to mark the occasion, I made a six-layer Neapolitan cake with strawberry buttercream and a chocolate glaze.  It was simply fabulous!

The inside picture looks messy, because we ate it up so fast, there were lots of slices gone by the time I got a picture of it.

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Generously covers 9-inch 2-layer or 8-inch 3-layer or 24 cupcakes

4 egg whites (use whole eggs for flavored buttercreams)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
4 sticks unsalted butter, soft
1/4 cup frozen strawberries, thawed

Place egg whites, vanilla, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and gently whisk over simmering water until sugar dissolves and mixture is 150 degrees, about 3-5 minutes. Place bowl on mixer and whip on high speed 7 minutes. Scrape down bowl. On medium speed, add butter 1/2 stick at a time, counting 10 seconds between additions. Mixture may look curdled. Increase speed to high and whip until it smooths out. Beat in strawberries on medium speed until combined.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dance Cookies

My little princesses have a dance recital, so I got the idea to make recital cookies for them to give their classmates on the big night!

I made soft vanilla sugar cookies, and covered them with sweet, pink marshmallow fondant. Then I made a dancer sillouhette stencil, used royal icing to create the sillouhettes on the cookies, and sprinkled each with lots of green sugar sprinkles! The cookies are soft and sweet, with a nice crunch from the sprinkles! The girls are dancing to "I'm a Believer" from "Shrek" and their costumes are green and covered with sequins, so I thought the cookies should match!

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400. Briefly sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the flat beater, blend the butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg and blend well. Mix in the vanilla extract and almond extract. Gradually blend in the flour mixture on low speed. Briefly knead the dough and roll it out 1/4-inch thick. Cut out your cookies and place one-inch apart on a good quality baking tray lined with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 7-8 minutes. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

A good friend of mine has left to go to Korea with her husband, who is scouting land there for churches. Before she left, I wanted to make her a special treat. I came up with these:

Soft, chewy oatmeal cookies sandwiched with pecan buttercream! These are sweet and nutty, with a hearty chew from old fashioned oats, a touch of spice from cinnamon, and buttery pecan filling. I was thinking of oatmeal cream pies when I made them, but these are a hundred times better! Cream pies for the adult palate!

Oatmeal Pecan Sandwich Cookies

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), softened but still firm
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 cups rolled oats

1. Adjust oven racks to low and middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer or by hand, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.

2. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together, then stir them into butter-sugar mixture with wooden spoon or large rubber spatula. Stir in oats.

3. Form dough into sixteen to twenty 2-inch balls, placing each dough round onto one of two parchment paper–covered, large cookie sheets. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. (Halfway during baking, turn cookie sheets from front to back and also switch them from top to bottom.) Slide cookies on parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before filling.

Pecan Buttercream
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbl cream
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

Whip together butter and sugar 3 minutes. Beat in salt, vanilla, and cream. Fold in pecans. Spread one heaping tablespoon on half of the cookies and sandwich with the other halves.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ah, chocolate chip cookies. Probably the favorite cookie of just about everyone. To me, the perfect chocolate chip cookie is soft and chewy, but tender, with lots of dark chocolate, buttery pecans, and a nice toffee flavor in the cookie itself.

It is actually somewhat difficult to get chocolate chip cookies to come out this way. Following the chocolate chip bag recipe, you are likely to get flat cookies that are pretty soft when they come out of the oven, but end up hard and crispy once cooled, and the dough itself isn't very flavorful, just very very sweet. After a lot of recipe tinkering, I have found the secret. These cookies are just as good cool as they are warm from the oven. Browning the butter brings out the nutty, toffee flavor I was looking for, and adjusting the amounts of flour, sugars, and baking soda creates the perfect thick, chewy cookie.  I'm rather proud of these!

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) 
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/ 4cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks 
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  2. 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  3. 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  4. 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
  5. 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Wedding Cookies

My mom got married in May, and I made two kinds of cookies as favors. For the rehearsal dinner, I did French Macarons (see previous post), and for the reception, I made 144 of these:

I made orange flavored sugar cookies, covered them with orange flavored rolled buttercream, and then stamped the design on. I had found the stamp at the craft store, and really wanted to use it on these cookies. I got a piece of felt and soaked it with black food dye, and then I was able to dip stamp and stamp the cookies! I spent 4 days piping (3 dozen each day!) miniature royal icing ribbon roses onto squares of parchment, so on cookie making day, they were dried and ready to go. I stuck them on with the leaves, which I piped on in green royal icing. After drying overnight, I packaged each cookie, and they were ready to go! 

They were beautiful and delicious, and I had a great time making them!

Orange Flavored Sugar Cookies:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400. Briefly sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the flat beater, blend the butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg and blend well. Mix in the vanilla extract and orange extract. Gradually blend in the flour mixture on low speed. Briefly knead the dough and roll it out 1/4-inch thick. Cut out your cookies and place one-inch apart on a good quality baking tray lined with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 7-8 minutes. 

French Macarons!

I first heard of French Macaron cookies from watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." Wolfgang Puck declared them his favorite dessert ever. He described them as tiny, delicate, melt-in-your-mouth almond cookies with a dazzling array of fillings. Combined with the pictures shown on the show, I was intrigued.

I found out from reading online that macarons are incredibly difficult to make, and actually have the reputation of being one of the world's most difficult baked good to make (leave it to the French!). I also learned that in Utah, you can only find them with regularity from the French bakery at the Grand America hotel downtown. 

After a while, I came across a recipe for them from my favorite recipe source, America's Test Kitchen. I made the recipe, but instead of lining my cookie sheet with parchment as called for, I simply sprayed with pam.  The cookies spread into flat, chewy pucks! Definitely not tiny, delicate, or melt-in-your-mouth. The French buttercream I filled them with turned out awesome, though, and the flavor of the cookies was great, so I definitely wanted to try again. 

My chance came at Christmas. Armed with parchment paper this time (which the cookies can cling to and therefore don't spread, but puff up like they're supposed to), I set about making macarons and also chocolate and vanilla sable cookies for neighbor gifts. 

They came out much better, but I overbaked them a bit, so they were a bit more chewy than they should be.  

I tried again at my mom's house, and at last achieved macaron perfection!

My mom was getting remarried in May, and I got an idea to make macarons for the wedding, as favors. Her colors were black, white, and red, so I decided to make three kinds: chocolate, vanilla, and raspberry! They came out delicious, and were a great success!

My next idea was for a very trendy flavor right now: salted caramel macarons!  I made the traditional vanilla shells, and then caramel French buttercream.  Then, I baked the shells with a pinch of sea salt on top!