Reader Lee-Ann writes:
Tis Maple season up here in Canada and I have found a good source for Maple sugar, which I have heard is better for you. I love baking and have tried a couple recipes switching out the brown or white sugar for Maple sugar. What is your view on baking with Maple sugar and is it a one to one ratio with white sugar?
Hey Lee-Ann! I’m not sure about maple being better for you, however I can totally understand wanting to make the substitution from a flavor and convenience standpoint. When you say “sugar” I presume you mean “syrup” (we in the Midwestern U.S. often conflate those two words where maple is concerned). I know there is such a thing as granulated maple sugar
Reader Chana asks: What is the difference between Turbinado sugar and “regular” brown sugar (either light or dark brown). Moisture content? Texture? Can brown sugar be used instead of the Turbinado sugar in the Golden Lemon Almond Cake? Can one replace the other in general? Good question(s). Turbinado sugar differs from brown sugar in that […]
Funny you should mention that. I’ve done a lot of experimenting with sugar in cakes, superfine versus baker’s sugar versus granulated, and I always found I got a finer texture with superfine. However I had a funny experience during an experiment I did with Italian meringue. Against the conventional wisdom I discovered that I could […]
Xuixos are made of components most of us pastry types already know: croissant dough and pastry cream (though in this case, the crème brûlée-like crema Catalana). Not having made xuixo before, I don’t know the quantities exactly, so I’ll put up guesstimates until I actually do them later on in the week.
For now I’ll say that there are two schools of thought on filling xuixos: filling them before frying or after. I’ll confess that filling a fried pastry at the shaping step makes no sense to me, as the custard will not only moisten and compress the delicate dough as it’s trying to proof, you run the risk of curdling the filling as the xuixo deep fries. Not to mention the fact that the filling could ooze out during the frying process, making a mess. No, I’m a fry-first-and-fill-later kinda guy. We’ll need:
20 ounces croissant dough
1 recipe crema Catalana
1 recipe egg wash
Canola oil for frying
granulated sugar for dusting
I’m not going to wade into the debate over whether the French invented crème brûlée first or the Catalonians invented crema Catalana first. Some subjects are simply too hot to touch. Suffice to say that the techniques for preparing them are identical, though the flavors and textures are not. Crema Catalana, in addition to vanilla, has citrus peel and cinnamon in it, which give it a nice liveliness. It’s not the showpiece for cream that crème brûlée is, but then it’s made with milk anyway. The extra eggs yolks compensate for the lost fat, in addition to giving this custard a somewhat looser texture.
Stirred up — versus being allowed to set in ramekins — crema Catalana makes a phenomenal filling. If you’re planning on using it for that purpose, you can simply do the final heating of the custard mixture in a saucepan. It’s a rough-and-ready treatment for a delicate custard, but it works very well for the purpose. If you’re serving your crema as a dessert, you can heat the custards gently in a water bath in the oven, which will ensure the very silkiest result. You’ll need:
If I didn’t know this pasta dough formula was Hungarian I’d swear it was Italian, though I guess it has a little more water in it than many Italian versions. It goes like this:
11.25 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
egg wash (the beaten leftover egg white is fine here)
jam of your choice (apricot is traditional, sweetened farm cheese is also very good here)
2 cups homemade bread crumbs made from good bread
4 ounces unsweetened butter
2 ounces granulated sugar
Now me, I use machinery for pasta, though I know that’s not what many recipes call for (“…make a well in the center of the dough and drop in the eggs…”). I mix the dough with a machine, and roll it with a machine. But you do as you wish. I’ll say that dough that’s hand-rolled is famous for it’s slightly rough “cat’s tongue” texture, which is the dead giveaway for pasta made with love on a wooden board. I myself don’t get excited about that. But if you do, roll away by all means. I’ll never discourage the use of elbow grease.
Reader and macaron lover Susan writes:
Hi, Joe. I am obsessed with making macarons. I have tried hundreds of recipes and yours is the only recipe that consistently produces perfect macarons. I’m attempting to make chocolate macarons. When I add in cocoa powder, do I then reduce the amount of powdered sugar that your macaron recipe calls for so the ratio of almond flour and powdered sugar remain 3.8:7.0?
I’m very pleased that the recipe is working so well for you, Susan. That’s an excellent question about the cocoa powder…a little too good, actually. The main problem you’re going to have with cocoa powder is the fact that it’s so absorbent. It’s going to soak up a good deal of water from the egg whites. Currently the recipe calls for about
For simple-but-elegant Italian preparations like these I always turn to Gina DePalma first, and she rarely disappoints. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by a Gina DePalma recipe come to think of it, which is why I recommend her book, Dolce Italiano so highly. This recipe is in The Babbo Cookbook. If the ingredient list looks an awful lot like what you’d need to make marzipan, that’s no coincidence. Amaretti are basically baked, fluffy marzipan.
6 1/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) blanched whole almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 ounces (1/2 cup) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
2 egg whites
2.75 ounces (1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon Amaretto
3.75 ounces (1/2 cup) turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Rugelach come in a couple of different styles. There’s the classic croissant shape and what you might call the “strudel: shape. Either one will work with this formula. Any time I take on a classic I try to be aware that there are dozens of possible alternatives, most with an equal claim to the “definitive version” title. That rule certainly applies to rugelach. Some versions are made with sour cream and are a little more cake-like, some with cream cheese and are a little more pie crust-like. This formula is the latter, because that’s the version I first tasted and learned how to make. Calle me sentimental. The proportions for this style of rugelach are fairly standard:
For the Pastry
For the Pastry
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
Who knew there was so much interest in this humble ingredient? But hey, I’ll go with the flow (buh-dum bum). Poured fondant, reader Kellie, was invented in France, probably in the mid-1800?s when granulated sugar was plentiful and the confectionery arts were developing in all sorts of new and interesting directions. The word “fondant” comes from the French verb for “melt”, presumably because of the way fondant melts in the mouth. Indeed, the fine crystal structure of fondant gives it melting qualities that are unique in the candy world.