Tag Archives | Pastry

KOUIGN AMANN: TRADER JOE’S PRODUCT REVIEW

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Trader Joe’s is my happy place. One of them, anyway. (C.Wonder, Pinterest, Stars Hollow, and beachy places also qualify. And I’m pretty sure I would love the Hamptons.) There’s just something about TJ’s that makes me cheerful, calm, and peaceful, even when it’s a busy Saturday and surely the occupancy level is over the legal limit. The employees are always so friendly, the prices are so reasonable, and everything just seems good somehow, you know? I can’t get enough, I just wish there were more locations in Columbus!

I was there two weeks ago. While passing the frozen desserts (ogling chocolate ice cream, who am I kidding) when my eyes spotted a much more intriguing temptress: Kouign Amann. Frozen. Ready to bake after a few hours of “proofing.” A box of 4 for $3.99. YOINK. In my cart that box went.

So before I go any further, surely some of you are like “Kou-what????” Kouign amann is pronounced like “queen yah-mahn.” The Trader Joe’s box told me that, but you can also find that information online. I think the first time I saw this pastry was on the Cooking Channel or Food Network. I don’t really remember much, only that it was buttery, full of flaky layers, involved caramelized sugar, and what else do I really need to know?? As David Lebovitz says, “Is there anything more fabulous than something created through the wonder and miracle of caramelization?” Kouign amann is a French thing, hailing from the region of Brittany which is why you might see this referred to as a “Breton” cake. While variations differ (is it a cake with a dense crumb or layered and flakey like a croissant?), the general consensus seems to be bananas over the flaky version. It all starts with a bread dough, and then it’s folded a bunch of times, rolled together, folded, rinse-and-repeat, with butter lovingly schmeared between each laminated layer, just like croissants. In terms of delicious factor on a scale of 1-10, it sounds like a solid 12. But it sounds tiring, doesn’t it? Oy vey.

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That’s why I love Trader Joe’s for bringing us a boxed version. All I have to do is remember to leave it out before I go to bed so the dough can “proof,” i.e. rise. One of these days I may be crazy enough to make my own attempt, but right now, who has time for that? Especially at $4 for a box of four! #gimmegimme

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We ate these like literally 5 minutes ago. They were good. Like so good that maybe we should’ve made all four just for the two of us and then just devoured them out of food-happiness. But not really because that’s a terrible idea. That thing about being a 12 on a scale of 1-10? Totally holds up. I even brought out some ganache I had in the refrigerator from a cupcake project two days prior, and you know what? We didn’t need it. It actually distracted from the delicious pastries. So keep them plain. I might try a smidge of jam with them next time, but I’ll bet you $5 (that’s more than they cost!) I’m going to say the same thing again.

To answer anyone’s suspicions, no, we are in no way affiliated with Trader Joe’s. I WISH! Hear that, TJ’s? Call me! No, this is purely out of good ol’ brand loyalty product lovin’ curiosity. So tell us—what are some of your favorite Trader Joe’s products? We could go on and on, but we’d love to know what you love!

MADELEINES: LAVENDER EARL GREY & COFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP

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The interesting part of having a food blog is figuring out your stream of content. Not that we’re new to the blogging game, but this is probably the most commitment we’ve put into a personal blog project. And w/ a food blog, you can’t just find pretty things on the internet and repost some great idea from a new perspective. I mean, you can, but you still have to walk the walk. You gotta make the stuff! And I know, y’all are probably like “Duh, no $*!#, Sherlock” but I’m serious. What do you make when you’re not feeling inspired? Or you’re like “No, I don’t want to use that idea yet,”? So while madeleines have been on my “make for the blog” list, and more importantly “make for real life because they’re delicious” list, it took me a little while to decide what I wanted to do about them. And now that I’ve been dealing with these things for a few days, I’m chock full of ideas all around madeleines! So I really hope you like them, because they’ll be coming at you a few more times in the future (but don’t worry, it won’t be like, next week or anything.). Madeleine series? I think so!

I was hoping to have this post up sooner, but we had a fun surprise Saturday morning. As we were making breakfast, I turned on the faucet to wash my hands and oh, hey! There’s no water coming out! Isn’t that fun? That put a damper in the plans, because I was all ready to bake these puppies and photograph them. So instead we got ourselves out of the house, ran errands, and enjoyed using restrooms and running water wherever else we could. It came back on later in the day, so it wasn’t tragic. Just a classic case of #firstworldproblems inconvenience. Though I have to say, I would much rather lack running water than have the power be out. It’s the little things, you know?

Now that we’re back to normal, our water is running, the stars are aligned and Mercury is no longer in retrograde (I don’t know, I just threw that part in there), voulez-vous une madeleine?

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Have you ever had a madeleine? They’re delicious little things, all buttery, spongey and elegant with their shell-like shape. A madeleine is a petite French cake made from a bunch of eggs and sugar whipped together until the batter has tripled (approximately) in volume, then butter, flour and the other necessities are folded in until the batter is uniform. The wonderful part is that they’re not hard to make. They just require a little tender, loving care and a fancy pants pan (this pan is what I have, which I purchased from Amazon for about $12). They look fancier than they actually are thanks to the specialty pan. The other great part of madeleines is that while the basic form is delicious, it’s also just as easy to add in spices, zests, and the other usual “mix-in” suspects, just like a cookie.

For some reason, I tend to be indecisive when baking these kinds of things, so I will sometimes split a batch in half and make two different versions. In this case, I made lavender earl grey madeleines and coffee chocolate chip madeleines. I will give you the recipes for each as if you made the entire recipe as a single flavor.

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One more thing, because I’m going to lay some knowledge down. When I bake with herbs that are kind of bulky in form that will affect the texture (for instance: full rosemary needles or lavender buds as opposed to things like dried basil), I like to grind them. I have a typical home coffee grinder appliance (this guy, actually) that I use specifically for grinding spices and herbs. Lavender is just one of those things where it really comes in handy. Lavender is lovely in looks, has a heady aroma and is all romantic to include, but does anyone really want to pick the buds out of their teeth while eating baked goods? No. No, they don’t. Use it to decorate, but don’t douse your food with it in full form unless you like picking flowers from your molars (sorry dude, just bein’ real).

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: : : Vanilla Madeleines : : :

Base recipe via Martha Stewart
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Coarse salt
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more, softened, for pans
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

— PLUS —

Lavender Earl Grey
5 tsp lavender, ground
2 earl grey tea bags
1 1/2 TBSP confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
1 TBSP confectioner’s sugar, for icing
1/2-3/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lavender buds for decorating

— OR —

Coffee Chocolate Chip
1 1/2 tsp ground coffee (yup, the real stuff in it’s ground form)
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks, chopped fine (mini chocolate chips will also work)
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate for dipping
3/4 – 1 tsp paraffin wax shavings

1. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking power, and salt) in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. In bowl of stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, whisk together eggs, granulated and brown sugars with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 10 minutes. The mixture will approximately triple in volume. Sift flour mixture over top in 2 additions, folding in after each addition. Fold in melted butter in 2 additions, then honey and vanilla.

3. Add in the mix-ins! For lavender earl grey madeleines, fold in the ground lavender and contents of two earl grey tea bags (dry, obviously) after adding the vanilla. For coffee chocolate chip, fold in the coffee grounds and chopped chocolate. Blend evenly. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to two days I like to make the batter in the evening, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and bake them the next day. It’s easy to fit them into your schedule that way.

3. When you’re ready to bake the madeleines, preheat oven to 350°. Let batter stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Generously butter the madeleine pan(s) using a pastry brush. (I put pans in parentheses because I only have one pan and I don’t want to make you feel like you need to invest in multiple!)

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4. Fill piping bag (or strong plastic bag with the corner cut for a 1/2″ opening) with batter. Pipe batter into molds, filling about 3/4 full. Bake on middle rack in oven, until a pale gold, approximately 8-15 minutes. The original recipe says 8-11 minutes, but my madeleines took about 14 minutes to finish so I’m giving you a broader range. Just watch them closely! If you’re baking mini madeleines as opposed to larger ones (as seen in pics), then of course the bake time will be shorter.

5. Remove tray from oven, remove madeleines from pan and let cool. Wash pan(s) and repeat process until batter is gone.

Time to garnish!

6a. Lavender Earl Grey: Sift 1 1/2 TBSP of confectioner’s sugar over madeleines. Combine remaining 1 TBSP confectioner’s sugar with lemon juice in very small bowl. Mix well and transfer to a sandwich baggie, at the bottom in a corner. Cut off the tip for a very small opening. Pip a medium-sized bead of frosting in center of madeleine and top with one or two lavender buds.

6b. Coffee Chocolate Chip: Line a plate/baking sheet with wax paper or parchment. Melt remaining 1/3 chocolate in small bowl with paraffin wax. You can do this in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. When melted, dip a top “corner” of each madeleine in the chocolate for an asymmetrical look. Let rest carefully on lined plate/baking sheet until dry. To speed the dry time, place in the refrigerator. Just remember to remove the madeleines carefully once dry!

7. Eat the bejeezus out of these babies. YOLO.