Vin’s pic of my apple turnovers

It’s starting to feel a little crisp in the mornings, which means fall is here!  This season makes me think of apples and cinnamon, and I had a hankering for baking something with apples.  Not only do I love anything with apple pie filling, baking apples makes the house smell so good!  And it totally reminds me of my dad; I remember going grocery shopping with my mom and picking up packages of Entenmann’s fruit danishes and turnovers for my dad to bring to work for his lunches.  He ate these things for years… every time I see the triangular puffs I think of my dad  =)  I never was a huge fan of store-bought apple turnovers b/c the ratio of the filling to puff pastry was always like… 1:4 and there was too much sugar in the filling and on the top.  I decided to give these chaussons aux pommes (“apple slippers”) a shot for a quick Sunday morning baking session, making sure the filling to pastry ratio was closer to 1:2  haha

Prepping some of the ingredients

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I bought a bushel of Macintosh apples… too bad we didn’t have time to go apple picking!  Sorting through the produce selection @ Stop ‘n Shop doesn’t count =(   I honestly don’t know what kind of apples are recommended for these fruit pastries and just kind of winged it.  I liked the tartness of the Macintosh apples and figured it would balance out the sugar, so why the hell not?  After peeling and chopping the apples, I cooked them in butter and added sugar (both brown and white), cinnamon, vanilla, and a splash of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey b/c the bottle has been sitting around for a while and it’s not like I’m going to pound shots of it, so I reasoned that the alcohol would burn off and I could still use the booze AND eat this.  This smelled SOOOO good, and it tasted a bit tangy and just sweet enough and I could have easily eaten this plain without the pastry shell  =P

Filling the turnovers with apples

While the filling cooled a bit I cut up the rolled out pastry dough I had chilling in the fridge.  I love that this stuff can be made well in advance and frozen for later spontaneous baking use.  I scooped out the filling onto six pastry rectangles, then cut quick slashes on the other halves of the pastry for the top pieces of the turnovers so the pastry could expand in the oven without breaking or splitting the egg-sealed seams. I whipped a quick egg wash to hold the pocket o’ pommes together, sprinkled some sugar and cinnamon on top, and popped them in the oven.

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My awesome whipped cream machine (ignore the shopping list temporarily penned on my wrist)

I bought this Tovolo Easy Prep Quick Hand Mixer and had been meaning to use it.  It’s this awesome little mechanical contraption that whips fresh cream or egg whites or aioli by hand; no need to take out the hand mixer and bowls… this thing will whip perfect light, airy fluffy deliciousness in less than a minute.  AND it’s dishwasher safe!  If you can’t tell, I absolutely love this thing.  If I had my own TV show I’d totally endorse it.  An entire episode could be about meringue or macarons and I’d do both the mind-blowing yolk separating trick and crank out perfectly whipped egg whites in no time.  In this case, I whipped fresh whipped cream.  It was perfect: not too much powdered sugar, a splash of vanilla, 30 seconds of hand cranking, and done!

Apple turnovers fresh from the oven

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The smell of baked apples and cinnamon was starting to get pretty powerful so I checked the oven.  The pastries looked just the right shade of golden brown so I took them out and arranged them on a bamboo cutting board to cool a bit.   And then Vin came into the kitchen…

Vin: Wow, those look good!  Did you just heat them or did you make them?

Me [slightly furrowing my brows and blinking]: …What?

Vin: Were these ready made and you just put them in the oven or did you–

Me: I MADE them.

Really???  I wanted to say, “Impostor!  Vin would never ask me such a rhetorical and silly question!  Who are you and what have you done to my husband?”  But then Vin says, “Baby, they look PERFECT!”  =)

A plated turnover with whipped cream canelles

I was really pleased with myself.  I plated one of the turnovers and put two canelles of whipped cream on top, then sprinkled a dusting of cinnamon and ground sugar over the dish.   The outside puffed to just the right height, and it was flaky, crisp and featherlight, and there was a distinct faint “crunch” noise each time the side of my fork pushed through the delicate layers.  The apple filling did not overflow and spill out and burn onto the pastry, indicating that I did a good job of sealing the turnovers, and I personally think the amount of filling was just right.  It wasn’t a thin layer, but each forkful came with a bit of baked apple pieces, instead of biting into a mouthful of just pastry (I’m talking to you, Entenmann’s!).  The still chilled fresh whipped cream had a hint of sweetness that just melded with the tartness of the apples.  I was worried that everything would be  a little too sweet since there was sugar in the filling, on top of the pastry, and in the cream, but it was just right.  (By the way, how’s THAT for a food review?  We just caught up on Top Chef: Masters and the final episode was all about how food writers/critics were trying to one up each other in creatively describing how “sensual” and “unctuous” the dishes were.  God. It was like, give me a break… who did you **** to get such an awesome job at such a young age and you’re clearly a pretentious, self-entitled d*ck?  Sometimes I wish a lifetime of SPAM on some people.  hahaha)

Spectacularly amazing apple turnovers

Update: I’m questioning Vin’s sanity again.  This is what happened when he ate a turnover later…

Vin: These are really good! Did you buy apples to make this?

Me: … What?

Vin: Did you buy apples and make the filling or is this like… from a can?

Me [incredulously blinking]: Baby!  I made it!  Everything! That’s why I was looking for the peeler, to peel the apples and then chop them up and I cooked them… hahaha

Vin: Oh!  It’s REALLY good!  I figured you made it… I don’t know why I even thought you used canned filling…  I just didn’t know we had apples.

Me [still blinking and trying to hide a smile]: … You’re silly.

Maybe Vin’s overtired or just not thinking correctly; he’s been holed up @ the computer editing photos for days and went drinking with friends last night.  Maybe that attributed to his temporary memory loss and why he just happened to forget what I’ve been doing in my spare time for the past 2.5 years.  But I appreciate the compliment on my baking, baby <3

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Last weekend, I just was craving a little bit of PB&J and PB and chocolate.  I’m not one to just stick my finger in a jar of peanut butter and eat it plain; I just wanted a tiny taste of it.  Preferably with a classic food pairing and a glass of non-dairy milk.  haha

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Vin is a big PB guy so I just decided to make PB print cookies:  PB cookie dough with either a pointer finger or thumb print, and then filled the impression with either grape jelly or this dangerously amazing Jif Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut spread.  I’m not supposed to be eating any of the above, but I really wanted a little, itsy, bitsy bit…  and my reasoning was that Vin would like it, too, and I could bring them into work to share with friends.  =P

They came out so cute and tasty looking that I ended up eating 2 of each (oops).  Hey man, they were fresh from the oven and perfectly soft and chewy.  I gave Vin a few and packaged the rest in the fridge, estimating that I made about 36+ cookies.

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I brought a small container of cookies to work to give my friend Diane.  It just so happened that on that day, I had just picked up molds of my teeth.  I had impressions taken a week before to get custom trays of my chompers for nighttime teeth grinding and gnashing purposes; the dentist was going to toss the molds so I asked if I could take them  =D  I displayed the molds on my desk and told D to come up and check them out, and she and I happened to have this silly idea to make a little movie of my “teeth” terrorizing and chomping down on a cookie.  D had fortuitously saved one last cookie, so our little project was definitely meant to be.

Given where we work we had access to a lot of video cameras and editing equipment, but given my position, using them for our goofy project would be a terrible idea.  haha  We decided that we would just take photos with my smartphone and use my little desk lamp to provide staged lighting (gotta love fluorescent office lights).  This was done during our lunch break and took all of 10 minutes; we both staged the props, I took the photos and D did the lighting.  She also strategically ate the cookie so the bite marks and crumbs were perfect.  ‘Twas was hilarious genius, it was.

Me: We’re like weird 5-year-olds with this idea.

D: No, we’re like normal 5-year-olds!

Me: This is true.

=)

That night I went home and put it together in MS Paint.  (This may come as a surprise to you, but I’ve been using MS Paint for ALL the beautiful baking related collages on this site.  *gasp*)  Et voila… our perfectly shot, beautifully edited, thoroughly developed, emotionally driven story with high tech special effects entitled “The Plight of the Cookie”:

The teeth and the cookie

 

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A bouquet of purple cupcake roses

Our family friends J & D are getting hitched and Vin and I have the honor of being in their wedding next month (so soon!).  J’s bridal shower was hosted @ our house, so I took a day off to bake cupcakes for the bride and the guests, make the shower favors, and CLEAN.

Step-by-step “egg magic”

Friday morning started off nice and easy and I loved the natural light that came in through the kitchen window.  I prepped for vanilla cupcakes, EXCEPT I used the water bottle method to separate my eggs.  The ol’ yolk extraction and drop off trick.  This is totally my new favorite thing.  I want to make custards and ice cream and macarons or meringue just to have an excuse to play with my food like this!  It was so easy and squeals of excitement ensued, and Vin watched me demonstrate the technique on my last yolk.  I just wanted to point out that the bottle loses some of its vacuum suction power after a dozen or so squeezes.  After I was done getting a kick out of sucking up and squeezing out egg yolks, I baked a few dozen vanilla cupcakes and a bunch of minis to bring to Vin’s family and give my co-workers.

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**This post is a couple weeks late… OK, a few weeks late.  We had some house-related catastrophes to deal with and much needed relaxing time to catch up on. Now that Labor Day has passed, I’ll be a little less lazy with the baking and the posts  =)

An array of mini chocolate cupcakes with blue rum and yellow vanilla frosting

Where has this summer gone???  I feel like I haven’t done that much baking (it’s just too humid and gross) and I have no idea where the time went.  It’s August and we hadn’t gone to the beach yet…

…Until my family came to visit this past weekend.  Originally, just my parents and little bro were coming over and my sister and her boyfriend were joining and we were all going to the beach and to get seafood and maybe go to the outlets and just hang out.  But my mom’s family didn’t have our usual summer get-together this year, so a last minute family BBQ was planned @ our house and my grandma, a couple of my aunts, and 2 of my little cousins joined in.  Vin and I went on a shopping spree @ the supermarket for meats to grill and bought packs of hot dogs and buns, salad, corn, ice, soda, beer, water… and we sweeped and vacuumed and cleaned and did yardwork… and then, on Saturday morning, I decided to bake.  I rarely get to give baked goods to my own family, let alone see them, so I wanted to make something special.  I bought these baking cups that looked like large disposable mouthwash cups, which would have been perfect for sno cone cupcakes.  Long story short, I wasn’t used to these baking cups @ all since they took twice as long to bake cupcakes (20 minutes for cupcakes? With THIS oven? Unheard of in this house!) and I was really rushing it with the frosting.  I used leftover frosting from C+H’s wedding and it wasn’t thick enough to hold the scooped ball shape, and it just looked sloppy.  I’m determined to try this again and put in more effort next time. Read More