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 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 shop window makes sure to tease passers by and the queuing sweet toothed crowd with generously frosted cupcakes.
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 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.
I made sure to carefully study the particular swirl of the frosting on the cupcakes, as groundwork for my future Magnolia-style baking projects.
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.
We left the bakery with our own signature box of goodies, ready to be devoured.
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).
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…
This fudge is smooth and creamy, not crumbly or dry like some other recipes tend to be.
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.
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.
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.
Now pour into a small baking dish lined with parchment paper, and allow to cool.
After an hour or two in the fridge, the fudge will be firm enough to chop into bite sized squares.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container, between layers of parchment paper.
Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee, and good company.
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:
- 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.
- Add butter and honey and allow mixture to bubble an additional 2 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Once the fudge is cool and has set, chop into bite sized squares. Store in an airtight container, with layers separated by parchment paper.
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.
Let me show you what I did…
These truffles are super simple. Only three ingredients – cream, white chocolate, and lemon.
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).
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.
Once coated with white chocolate and chilled again to solidify, melt dark chocolate to dot eyes and paint spiders on the truffles.
Scary little truffles.
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:
- Heat the cream in a saucepan on medium heat. Grate the zest of the lemon.
- Once your cream is warm, add 300 grams (10.5 oz) of your chopped white chocolate and stir until completely melted.
- Pull your saucepan off the heat and add the lemon zest and stir until combined.
- Line a small baking pan with parchment paper and pour your truffle mix into it. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm.
- 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.
- Melt the remaining 200 grams (7 oz) of white chocolate. Once melted, get your truffles out of the freezer.
- 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.
- Once all your truffles are coated, place tray back in freezer for 15-30 minutes.
- 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.