Browsing Tag

baking tips


Make Your Own Skull Cookie Cutters

DIY skull cookie cutters

DIY skull cookie cutters
photos: DIY Skull Cookie Cutters from Hello! Lucky

That is a clever idea from Hello! Lucky. It is so simple that I wonder why I didn’t think of it before. They turned a round cookie cutter into a skull cookie cutter. Pliers will create a more defined bend. But don’t worry if you don’t have pliers, you can use your fingers to pinch the sides.

Use your favorite sugar cookie recipe to make your own Skull Cookie Pops. Hello! Lucky suggests to use the Perfect Sugar Cookie (and Cookie Pop) from Sweetapolita. Have fun baking!

While we are on the topic of skulls, you should check the  DIY Sidewalk Skulls that first inspired these cookies, this is another project from Hello! Lucky.


Holiday Baking Tip: Lining Pans with Parchment

Parchment Paper Lining Tip

Parchment Paper Lining Tip

Started your holiday baking yet? Me either. Though in between choosing my recipes and preparing my ingredient shopping list, I’m on the hunt for tips to help make the baking process a little sweeter.

If you’re not already using parchment paper to bake, let this be the season you start. Parchment paper is similar to wax paper – minus the wax, so it’s oven-safe. Use it to line cookie sheets and baking pans to eliminate the need for greased pans (and, ahem, a few extra calories too). Parchment paper also helps to make clean-up easier.

To ensure your pans are perfectly lined, try these simple tricks from goodLife {eats}. Place your pan on the parchment paper to ensure the correct size, then snip the corners of the paper. How sweet is that?


A Printable Holiday Baking Pantry Checklist

Simply bites holiday baking checklist

Simply bites holiday baking checklist

This will save you trips to the grocery stores. Aimee at Simple Bites made a handy holiday baking pantry checklist. There is nothing worst than starting to bake and realizing in the middle of a recipe that you are out of an ingredient. It is important to go through what is in your pantry to check what is running low or has gone stale.

Since baking requires many ingredients, including special ones that will be able to add to the list, it’s best to plan head. Why not start to stock the pantry items right away since they are non perishable? Make sure you keep in stock alternate sweeteners, beverages, extracts and flavorings, several types of flours, leavens and stabilizers, alcohols and liquors, seeds, spice, spreads, vinegars, and more.

I’m sure that will find her Ultimate Holiday Baking Checklist a time saver. As you flip through the recipes that you plan to bake this Holiday, simply mark which ingredients you need. There is place to write the quantity besides each item. Happy Baking!

+ Simple Bites Tips on Making Your Baking Pantry List with a link to download her Holiday Baking Checklist


Free Form Tarts and a Wow moment for La Tartine Gourmande

free form tart recipes :: pear and hazelnut tart :: onion tart

I never realized until I watched a French TV show that “free form tart” is a concept that does not exist in the French cuisine. Food blogger Pascale Weeks of C’est moi qui l’ai fait pointed out that fact in the episode. It is strange that never noticed it before. Although I have seen it many times, I never considered making a free form tart until now. I am planning to change that.

I learned that the key for a successful free form tart is to beautifully place the fruit pieces in a big circle and to gently fold the edges of the dough up. For a more sophisiticated look, pass a fluted pastry wheel on the dough before you fold it. As you can see, I became a fan of their rustic look and feel.

best fig tart by chez pim

It is not just for sweet tarts, you can go free form for savory tarts. Here are a few tasty free form tart recipes that you may want to bookmark:

You remember the TV show that inspired me to talk about free form tarts. It has a must-see segment where they followed Bea of La Tartine Gourmande as she worked on a food story. Her 8-minute segment starts at 2/3 of the show; so, unless you speak French, advance Envoyé Spécial – la suite until you hit 16 minutes. Bea wrote a wonderful post where she described, in English, the making of process of her TV segment. She was great on camera!

+ top left photo: Tarte rustique aux poires et noisettes, sans moule by Pascale Weeks of C’est moi qui l’ai fait!


A twist on the Schmandkuchen

Schmandkuchen recipe :: german cake with a schmand filling topped with glazed fruits

Schmandkuchen :: german easter cake with schmand, a sour cream product

For her Easter brunch, our German-born friend Bettina Forget baked a Canadian version of a German sour cream cake often topped with fruits. That specialty cake is called Schmandkuchen. You sandwich the schmand mixture between a layer a cake at the bottom and a fruit topping. It is delicious and not too sweet.

Schmand is the main ingredient of any Schmandkuchen recipes. Schmand is heavier, thicker and more sour in taste than crème fraîche. You mix the schmand with vanilla pudding to make the custard part of the cake. You can substitute shmand with Western sour cream mixed with heavy whipping cream or simply, with crème fraîche. But you have to know that schmand does not melt in the oven, which is different than how crème fraîche reacts in the stove. So you may have to adjust your recipe.

Everybody enjoyed a taste of what is the traditional German Easter cake in Bettina’s family. Her mother used to make her with pickled sour cherries. Abricot and mandarin are also popular. Bettina used fresh berries instead.

April 6th, 2010 Update: Get Bettina’s Schmandkuchen recipe here


Blood Orange Caramels with Toasted Almonds and Sea Salt | Candy Recipe

blood orange caramels recipe on matt bites

blood orange caramels recipe on matt bites

I cannot believe that I never visited Matt Bites before. It is an exceptionally awesome blog produced by food photographer Matt Armendariz, who is located in Los Angeles. Matt offered a lot of behind the scenes stories on his blog. He also shares tips on food and food photography.

If you like to bake your own candy, you will want to add this to your repertoire. We have to thank one of his food stylist friends, Cindie, for this recipe. She brought the Blood Orange Caramels with Toasted Almonds and Sea Salt at a shooting. I must quote how Matt, who does not have a sweet tooth, described the taste:

Oh my god, these caramels. Soft and chewy, the initial stickiness gives way to buttery and tart citrus flavors before ending with tiny salty fireworks once the crystals have had time to dissolve on your tongue. The whole shebang ends with a crunch of the toasted nuts, and before long you realize these caramels have sent you over the edge with very distinct flavors all working together harmoniously.

I was sold when I saw the pictures. Now, I am craving for some. If you bake those, make sure to use Parchment paper. You are never supposed to put wax paper on the oven since it could burn. But it is even more important when you are making caramels. People who used wax paper for baking reported that the caramel sticked too much, which was caused by the fact that the wax melted on the oven. Leave the wax paper to wrap the caramels, once they have cooled down.

+ photos and recipe: Matt Bites


Ms. Humble’s Game Controller Cookies

game controller cookies by ms humble

game controller cookies by ms humble

In light of the popularity of Super Mario’s cupcakes, I see that many of you play video games at home. This is why I think you will enjoy the Wii remote and the PS3 and Xbox controller cookies made by Ms. Humble of Not So Humble Pie.

She cut and shaped the cookies by hand. This is not for beginners. Knowledge of sugar cookie and icing is a must to realize those cookies. You need to plan ahead since the flooding takes several hours to dry.

+ photos: Not So Humble Pie


Wrapping Ideas for Your Holiday Baked Goods

peacan bourbon cookies in white and blue chinatown bowls

Every year, my husband and I baked our batches of holiday cookies. They become our signature hostess gifts during the Holidays. I make sure to select a beautiful reusable container. It is part of the gift. Naturally, I am always on the lookout for new ways to wrap my baked goods.

It became a tradition. I look forward for the inspiring cookies recipes presented in cute containers every November on Canadian House and Home. This year, three ideas stand above the rest. First, the white and blue Asian bowls. Similar bowls are easy to find at your local Chinatown.

white chocolate macadamia bark in wooden wine bottle box

Another practical idea is the wooden wine bottle box. I have a head start since I collected these boxes. You simply flip the lid over to hide the wine label.

earl grey marshmallows in a glass jar

What is noteworthy about the third idea is the recipe. Earl Grey marshmallows sound divine. I never make marshmallows but this recipe is a good reason to start. Apparently, the gentle Earl Grey tea pairs well with hot chocolate. I know that I want to try those.

If you are looking for cookie recipes, they are plenty of choices in their best cookies recipes. If you are looking for more ideas, check out what were the best cookie wrapping ideas in 2007.

+ Canadian House and Home, November 2009: photography by Angus Fergusson, food stylish by Eshun Mott


How to Make Spider Web Icing

how to make spider web icing :: bake at 350 halloween cookies

To conclude today’s marathon on Halloween treats, I am leaving you a link to a tutorial I spot on Bake at 350. You can learn how to make this awesome two-color spider Web icing. The technique is demonstrated on cookies but it could be adapted for decorating cupcakes.

Bridget of Bake at 350 is a source of information for any baker. She shows us how to make cute candy corn cookies.

+ photos: Bake at 350


Pan-Baked Lemon-Almond Tart by Mark Bittman

pan-bakes lemon-almond tart by mark bittman photographed by evan sung for ny times

I told you yesterday that I plan to dress a dessert table à la Amy Atlas for my husband’s birthday. Consequently, I started a hunt for tasty and rapid-to-bake desserts that fit my color palette. Since I believe every menu needs an array of textures, I add the mix of textures to my requirements.

I will try this tart first but I think Mark Bittman made my life easier when he imagined a no nonsense frittata style lemon tart with almond. Mark described it as a rich and moist sweet tart. Since they is no crust, it is super easy to make. He sprinkled icing sugar (powdered sugar) and sliced almonds on top. Do not miss the video of the pan-baked lemon-almond tart recipe on the New York Times.

As a bonus, the recipe will be a good occasion to try the Martha Stewart birthday cake stencils I bought last year. You will know later if the lemon-almond tart made the cut for my husband’s birthday party.

+ Pan-Baked Lemon-Almond Tart recipe
+ photo by Evan Sung for New York Times


Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson

salty sweets by christie matheson

Balancing salt and sweet is popular with chefs. Simply think of caramels with fleur de sel or molten chocolate cake served with olive oil. I am in the middle of organizing my husband’s birthday party. This year, I decided to try to make a dessert table à la Amy Atlas. Since there will be lot of sweets, I wish to balance it off with salty treats. The balancing act is more impressive when it happens in one dish.

On Salty Sweets you get the recipe for a peanut butter cupcake with chocolate frosting. For my husband’s birthday, I would prefer cupcakes with earl grey tea or ginger. Both flavors while complement better my theme. Do not worry, I will share details on the food and decor after his party.

In the meantime, if you are looking for recipes, check out this cookbook by Christie Matheson. Salty Sweets presents 75 delectable ways to play with sweet and savory flavors. Her book revolves around delectable desserts and tempting treats with a sublime kiss of salt. This trend does not stop at desserts. Lots of chefs experiment with this concept. I am sure that we will see more cookbooks on that food trend.

+ USA: Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson $13.57 USD
+ Canada: Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson $17.48 CAD