Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's Day

LOVE is in the air. I can feel it.

Okay, maybe not.

But there's no denying that Valentine's Day is quickly approaching.  Store fronts are filled with all things pink and frilly, and florists and chocolate shops are armed and ready.  If you've tried everything from bouquets of red roses to three foot chocolate bears filled with cream to heart shaped jewelry, you might be wondering what to do this year.

Perhaps I can help.

There's nothing sweeter on Valentine's Day than home-made treats. It says, even though I'm a 200 pound male who loves football and beer, I love you enough to spend hours in the kitchen cutting dough into tiny hearts and smearing them in sugary pink frosting.  Or, just because we eat out every night doesn't mean I don't love you enough to tie on an apron and jeopardize my manicured nails to the dangers of the kitchen to bake a giant pink cake.

Now that's love.

And if you don't have someone special to bake for on Valentine's Day, bake for yourself!  Everyone deserves a little sugar on the 14th, so don't be ashamed. 

How about Heart Shaped Butter Cookies?

Or goblets of French Macaroons...

... and  Tiny Raspberry Meringues?

Or a Neapolitan Ruffle Cake?

Click below for recipes and more pics!

Raspberry Meringues

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon LorAnne's Raspberry Oil
Drop pink food coloring

1. Preheat the oven to 175 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer, then set over a pot of simmering water. Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture no longer feels grainy when rubbed against the side of the bowl (160 F on a candy thermometer).

3. With the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. Add the raspberry oil and coloring, and fold gently to combine. Scoop the meringue mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip, and pipe small meringues onto the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 2-2 1/2 hours, or until the meringues are crisp but not brown. Cool on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container.

Iced Butter Cookies

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

confectioners sugar
boiling water
food coloring

1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.  Set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix lightly.  Add the dry ingredients in three parts, mixing only until the flour is absorbed into the butter mixture.

3.  Place the dough on your work surface and form into a large ball.  Divide into three parts, and wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to three days.  Dough may also be frozen for up to one month.

4. When ready, preheat the oven to 350 F and unwrap the dough and let sit at room temp for roughly 10 minutes to soften slightly.

5. On a well floured surface, roll the dough to your desired thickness (anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 inch).  Cut with cookie cutter and place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10-20 minutes (depending on their thickness), or until slightly browned on the edges.

6. Immediately remove cookies onto a cooling rack.  Do not ice until completely cooled.

7. To make the royal icing, sift confectioners sugar (roughly 2 cups) into a medium bowl.  Add about 2 tablespoons boiling water and stir until all the water is absorbed.  Add more boiling water in small amounts, stirring after each addition until the icing is smooth and loose enough to ice cookies.  Add food coloring if desired.

8. Coat cooled cookies with the royal icing, and let sit on cooling racks several hours until the icing is completely hardened. If decorating with sprinkles, add while the icing is still wet.

Cinnamon-Honey Macaroons

3 egg whites
2/3 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
pink food coloring

4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla

To make the macaroons:
 1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Draw 1 inch circles spaced roughly 1 inch apart on the parchment paper.

2. Sift the ground almond, powdered sugar and cinnamon together twice.  Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on high until foamy.  With the mixer still running, gradually add the 5 tablespoons of sugar.  Continue beating until stiff white peaks form.

3. Carefully fold in the vanilla and food coloring.  Sift half the almond-sugar mixture onto the egg whites and fold in gently.  Sift the remaining almond-sugar onto the egg whites.  Stir carefully to combine.  Hold the mixing bowl at an angle, and smear the batter against the side of the bowl using a large spatula.  Scoop the batter up and repeat 15 times.  This is called macaronnage.

4. Scoop the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip (around 1 cm) and pipe macaroons on the circles on the baking sheet.  Rap the tray against the counter several times.  This adheres the macaroon batter to the sheet, which helps create the pied, or foot, on the macaroons as they bake. Let sit at room temp until the batter is no longer sticky when pressed lightly with a finger.  This can take anywhere from 25-30 min.

5.  When ready to bake, place a second baking tray underneath the one with the macaroons and place in the oven.  Bake for 5 minutes, then cover the macaroons with a large sheet of aluminum foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.  When done, remove from the oven and place the sheet of parchment on a cooling rack.  When the macaroons are cool, remove from the parchment paper.

To make the buttercream:
1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Place this on top of a pot of simmering water.  Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture no longer feels grainy when rubbed against the side of the mixing bowl.  (160 F on a candy thermometer).

2. Remove from the simmering water and beat with the whisk attachment until white peaks forms.  Beat for an additional 6 minutes.

3. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the unsalted butter, a few tablespoons at a time.  Mix well after each addition.  Add the vanilla (and food coloring if using) and fold in gently.  If using any other flavoring, add small amounts and taste until the desired flavor is reached. In this case I added roughly 2 tablespoons of honey.

To assemble the macaroons:
1. Fit a pastry bag with a small tip and fill with buttercream.  Pipe a small amount of buttercream onto the flat side of the macaroon and place another macaroon on top, flat side down.

2. The macaroons should stored in the fridge and warmed to room temp before serving.

Neapolitan Ruffle Cake

I got the inspiration for this cake from Sweetapolita, and I used her recipes for the three cake flavors.  Visit her blog to learn how to make the cakes: Sweetpolita.

To assemble:
Strawberry jam
1/2 x Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
1 x Swiss Meringue Buttercream - tinted pink

1. Cut the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry cakes in half horizontally.  Stack the layers, spreading a generous amount of strawberry jam between each layer.

2.  Make half a recipe of swiss meringue buttercream, following the instructions above under the macaroons.  Spread the buttercream on the sides and top of the cake, smoothing to create an even surface.  Refrigerate until the frosting is hard.

3. Make a whole recipe of the buttercream and tint pink.  Use this frosting to create the ruffles on the cake. You need to refrigerate the pink buttercream roughly 30 min before you pipe the ruffles or else they are too loose and slide down the side of the cake.  To learn how to pipe ruffles, watch this video:
Ruffle Video.



  1. What gorgeous, elegant desserts! Gave you some Buzz love~~

  2. Stunning! Lovely! Wish I lived in Vermont!!!

  3. Thanks so much for the kind comments (and buzz love), Lizzy and Lin Ann!!

  4. Oh my... stunning! I love everything that you've given us... and your presentation is gorgeous!

  5. Beautiful desserts! I also love your sideboard that they are presented on.

  6. Wow! What a spread! And they are all so beautiful ... I'm definitely in love :D who cares if Valentine's day is already over! Why don't you come over to my Virtual Potluck Party and bring those lovelies with you? Yum!

  7. Thanks, Ping!! I'll try and post something for the virtual potlock party sounds like a lot of fun!!

  8. OH these are too pretty, and I can feel the LOVE!!!! I am currently doing homebased baking lessons and like you I take orders too. But I am taking it really slow as I have a 3 year old son who needs my attention most at this moment. Can't wait for him to grow old and big , then I will have the time to run a more serious business here. Great work, love your ginger bread house, it's so neat and beautiful! Cheers! Wish one day I could visit you at your stalls in Vermont. :)

  9. Thanks for the kind comments Honey Boy...(and in response to your other comment, you can definitely call me Lapin!)

    Taking care of a 3 year old does sound like a lot of work, I cannot even imagine. I can't wait to see what wonderful treats you'll bake as he grows older and you have more time for baking!



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