Magnolia Bakery, Bleeker Street, NYC

A visit to The Magnolia Bakery was one of many things I wanted to do while in New York City. As an avid baker, I saw this particular excursion as a sort of research venture. We spent our Saturday afternoon in NYC browsing intriguing boutiques in Greenwhich Village, while making our way towards 401 Bleeker Street, and Magnolia Bakery.

The Magnolia Bakery

The place is pretty busy on a Saturday afternoon, with the queue at times stretching around the corner of the bakery. As if to further enhance the evident popularity of the place, the entrance to Magnolia was occupied by a young woman regulating the flow of people.

We were pretty lucky and only had to stand outside for about ten minutes before we were welcomed inside and instantly enveloped by the sweet aroma of cupcakes that awaited past the threshold.

The Magnolia Bakery

The shop window makes sure to tease passers by and the queuing sweet toothed crowd with generously frosted cupcakes.

The Magnolia Bakery

I got giddy with excitement the second we stepped inside and I saw the signature frosted cupcakes lined up in the glass displays. Cupcakes, cakes, and pies decorated to tickle my creativity. I wanted to sneak behind the counter, tie an apron around my waist, and grab the icing knife.

The Magnolia Bakery

The shop itself is no bigger than a corner deli, with a single table for lingering guests. Had my  mind not been dead set on trying the cupcakes, I would have easily been convinced to get one of the mini cheesecakes, pies, or tiered cakes with wavy icing in pastel colours.

The Magnolia Bakery

I made sure to carefully study the particular swirl of the frosting on the cupcakes, as groundwork for my future Magnolia-style baking projects.

The Magnolia Bakery

And as if directly catering to my interests, I got a  first hand inspection of the frosting technique as two girls stood behind the glass counter busying themselves with carefully frosting freshly baked red velvet cupcakes.

The Magnolia Bakery

We left the bakery with our own signature box of goodies, ready to be devoured.

The Magnolia Bakery

We got a vanilla cupcake with pastel green vanilla buttercream frosting (Tom’s choice), the seasonal Fall chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting (my choice), and I couldn’t resist asking for a mini red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting too, cream cheese frosting being both my and Tom’s favourite.

The Fall cupcake had a moist and airy chocolate base and was topped with a sumptuous amount of vanilla buttercream frosting. I like that they’re so generous with the frosting, they’ve got the cake to frosting ratio just right. My only complaint would be that the frosting was almost too sweet. The red velvet mini cupcake was a bit dry, and I dare say that I make better cream cheese frosting myself. I didn’t taste Tom’s vanilla cupcake, but he said the stuff I bake is better (no telling if he was just trying to flatter me).

White Chocolate Fudge for my brother

My brother Eric has always loved my saffron fudge that I make each Christmas. So, with Tom and my pending trip to New York City to visit my brother and sister, I decided I’d make Eric some white chocolate fudge to surprise him. Provided Tom and I don’t eat it all before we go…

White Chocolate Fudge

This fudge is smooth and creamy, not crumbly or dry like some other recipes tend to be.

White Chocolate Fudge

You start by letting sugar, syrup, and cream come to a boil in a large pot. Let that bubble at medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep your eyes on it as it’ll easily boil over. You know it’s done when the mixture has reached the soft-ball stage. At this point you add the butter and honey and let it bubble for another 2 minutes.

White Chocolate Fudge

I added lemon zest to my fudge because I like the combination of tangy lemon with white chocolate. This is an optional addition though, next time I’ll do it without the zest to leave the fudge completely smooth.

White Chocolate Fudge

Once the butter and honey has come together nicely and bubbled for a bit more. Pull your pot off the heat and add the white chocolate and (if using) lemon or lime zest to your mixture. Stir until smooth.

White Chocolate Fudge

Now pour into a small baking dish lined with parchment paper, and allow to cool.

White Chocolate Fudge

After an hour or two in the fridge, the fudge will be firm enough to chop into bite sized squares.

White Chocolate Fudge

Store in the fridge in an airtight container, between layers of parchment paper.

White chocolate fudge

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee, and good company.

Recipe
Yields: about 48 pieces
Time: 40 minutes (+ 1 or 2 hours to chill)

  • 3 dl / 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 3 dl / 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 dl / 1/2 cup light syrup
  • 50 grams / 1.7 oz butter
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 100 grams / 3.5 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • Zest of one lemon, optional

Here’s what you do: 

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the cream, sugar and syrup and allow to come to a boil while stirring. Let bubble at medium heat while stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches soft-ball stage (about 20-25 minutes). Keep your eyes on the pot as it’ll easily boil over.
  2. Add butter and honey and allow mixture to bubble an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Pull the pot off the heat and add in the white chocolate and lemon zest, stir until everything is combined and you’ve got a smooth mixture.
  4. Line a small baking dish (15 x 25 cm / 6 x 10 inches) with parchment paper and pour the fudge into it. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm.
  5. Once the fudge is cool and has set, chop into bite sized squares. Store in an airtight container, with layers separated by parchment paper.

Enjoy!

Halloween Recipe: White Chocolate Truffle Ghosts

When I’m given the opportunity to express my creativity, there’s no stopping me. So, I couldn’t only bake white chocolate chip Halloween cookies for the upcoming Halloween party this weekend. I also made white chocolate truffles, decorated to suit the event.

5_done

Let me show you what I did…

1_ingredients

These truffles are super simple. Only three ingredients – cream, white chocolate, and lemon.

2_lemonzest

Heat the cream in a saucepan, then add your white chocolate and stir until it’s melted completely. Pull the saucepan off the heat and add the zest of one whole lemon (make sure you only grate the yellow part of the skin, the white part of the skin taste foul and will ruin your truffles).

3_balls

Pour your mixture into a small pan lined with parchment paper and refridgerate for 1-2 hours. Once chilled, scoop heaping teaspoons of the batter into your palm and carefully roll into small balls and place on a tray with parchment paper. Freeze for 1-2 hours.

The next couple of steps are the tricky part, that’s when you coat the frozen truffles in white chocolate before letting them chill again. These steps need to be done fairly quickly to avoid the truffles melting, which is why I didn’t bother snapping photos of the process. Lucky for you, I’ve explained the steps in detail in the recipe below.

4_done

Once coated with white chocolate and chilled again to solidify, melt dark chocolate to dot eyes and paint spiders on the truffles.

7_done

Scary little truffles.

Recipe
Yields
: about 18 generous truffles
Time: 1 hour (+ 4 hours for refrigerating/freezing)

  • 500 grams / 18 oz White Chocolate, chopped
  • 1dl / 0.4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 lemon, zest of
  • 50 grams / 1.7 oz dark chocolate
  • Optional: sprinkles, shredded coconut, grated white chocolate (for decorating)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Heat the cream in a saucepan on medium  heat. Grate the zest of the lemon.
  2. Once your cream is warm, add 300 grams (10.5 oz) of your chopped white chocolate and stir until completely melted.
  3. Pull your saucepan off the heat and add the lemon zest and stir until combined.
  4. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper and pour your truffle mix into it. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm.
  5. Line a tray with parchment paper. Scoop heaping teaspoons of truffle into your palm and carefully roll into even balls and place on the tray. Freeze for 1-2 hours.
  6. Melt the remaining 200 grams (7 oz) of white chocolate. Once melted, get your truffles out of the freezer.
  7. Using two forks, drop the truffles in the melted chocolate and roll around until coated, place back on tray. If using sprinkles or other toppings, sprinkle them over each truffle as soon as you’ve coated them in chocolate, so that the toppings stick.
  8. Once all your truffles are coated, place tray back in freezer for 15-30 minutes.
  9. Melt your dark chocolate. Dip a pin or toothpick into the dark chocolate and dot eyes on your coated truffles to create ghosts. Get creative, draw spiders or cobwebs using the dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

White Chocolate Chip Halloween Cookies

Happy Halloween!

This weekend Tom and I are invited to a Halloween party. If I wasn’t currently pursuing a career in web and graphic design, I’d most likely be a pastry chef. So, it’ll come as no surprise then that I did some baking for the party. I bring you White Chocolate Chip Cookies, Halloweenified.

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Trust me, these cookies are really something else.

Let me show you how to make them.

1_ingredients

Assemble your baking supplies. I don’t have any fancy tools, like a Kitchen Aid (oh, one could dream). My little red hand mixer gets me pretty far though.

2_buttersugar

Measure your sugar and butter, then whip it together.

3_mixed

Once combined, add eggs and vanilla and mix for a little bit until smooth. Then add your dry ingredients and mix again.

Tip: I use both vanilla extract (liquid) and throw in about a teaspoon of pure vanilla powder for good measure. You could add a teaspoon of cinnamon too, or even pumpkin pie spice for a hint of fall.

4_choppedchoc

You don’t have to be too fussy about how you chop the chocolate, odd chunks will do.

Tip: If you’re not Halloweenifying your cookies (in other words, omitting the Reese’s Pieces and sprinkles) then add a bit more white chocolate to your recipe. About 550 grams (20 ounces) of white chocolate should do.

5_mixinchoc

Transfer all your chocolate to the mixing bowl and use a spatula to fold it all into the dough.

6_allmixed

Now you’ve got to practice that patience of yours while you let the dough rest in the fridge (cover the bowl with cling film) for 24 to 36 hours. Try to keep your fingers (or boyfriends, children’s, husbands fingers) out of the bowl while it rests.

7_toppings

Once it’s time to finally bake your cookies, prepare your Halloween toppings. I used orange sprinkles and Reese’s pieces.

9_rolleddots

8_rolleddots

Roll about a tablespoon worth of dough into a ball, then roll half of it in the sprinkles before placing them on a parchment paper clad baking tray. Make sure you give them space so they don’t all morph into one big cookie when you bake them (then again, that might not be a bad thing…)

10_plain

I made some just plain with no toppings, and some I pressed 3 to 5 orange and yellow Reese’s Pieces into.

12_done

Orange you glad I shared this recipe with you?

Recipe
Yields: about 36 cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes
Chill time: 24-36 hours
In the oven: 7-8 minutes

  • 1 cup butter, softened (about 200g / 7 oz)
  • 1 cup light brown muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon (liquid) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups (about 550g / 20 oz) chopped white chocolate
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Orange hundreds and thousands sprinkles

Here’s what you do:

  1. Start by mixing together the softened butter and both sugars for a couple of minutes until completely combined and no lumps of butter remain.
  2. Add in the eggs, vanilla extract, pure vanilla powder and (if using) cinnamon and mix again. Turn the speed up and mix for about half a minute until you’ve got a smooth batter.
  3. Add salt, baking soda, baking powder and flour and mix again. The batter will become rather heavy now, mix until everything is combined.
  4. Add your chopped white chocolate and use a spatula to fold the pieces into the dough.
  5. Cover the bowl with cling film and let rest in the fridge for 24 to 36 hours.
  6. Fast forward 24 (to 36) hours and preheat your oven to 190°C / 365°F.
  7. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour your sprinkles into a small dish.
  8. Roll about 1 tablespoon worth of dough into an even ball, then roll one side of each ball in your dish of sprinkles. Alternatively, press 3-5 Reese’s Pieces into the top of the ball.
  9. Place on baking sheet. Make sure you give the dough balls some space so they don’t melt into each other when you bake (8-10cm / 2-3 inches apart should keep you safe).
  10. Bake for 7-8 minutes. I usually set my timer for 7 minutes and once it goes off, I keep an eye on the cookies in the oven until I see the edges have just started to brown. They’ll keep baking a little bit once they’re out of the oven, so you want them slightly under baked for that perfect soft cookie.
  11. Once out of the oven, let them sit on the baking tray for a couple of minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack.

Adapted from Cookies & Cups

I pet a snake and a spider

Skansen, Stockholm

Tom and I went to Skansen last weekend. We went in the aquarium and saw tropical animals like little monkeys, parrots and lizards. Once we’d made our way through the whole aquarium we approached two open glass bowls, one with a snake in it, and one with a spider in it. A big furry brown spider. And a big slithering brown snake. I’m not really a fan of either. They kind of creep me out. But I’ll have you know that I pet both of them! Checked that fear off my bucket list.

Above, a pose-happy lizard in the aquarium at Skansen. 

 

Good times

roses1

dat sparkle

Another ridic good weekend! Allow me to sum it up for you:

  • Sunshine and clear blue skies all weekend.
  • Great meeting on Saturday with a client I’m building a website for.
  • Met up with B on Saturday afternoon and ended up having a couple of beers, which resulted in a bit tipsy. And then we went grocery shopping… How is it that I always end up with that odd combination of activities when I meet B? Haha, good times.
  • Started Sunday morning with a long power walk, a killer gym workout, and rounded things off by going for a run like some crazy mad woman on speed.
  • My aforementioned exercise gave me the endorphins to super successfully knock one thing after the other off my to do-list. Ah yes.
  • My brother texted that he’s back from NYC! Getting to see him tomorrow evening.
  • Got an email today about an exciting meeting next week.
  • Oh, and you know those little text messages that make you smile. That.

Right, going to get some studying done and then hopping out to meet J for some much needed catching up. Oh, and guess what? The sun is shining today too!

Ciao amigos,
Over-hyped-batshit-cray-chic-a-lick-lack

I am speed muthafucka!

What’s that? It’s FRIDAY!

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