This year had plenty of ups and downs, but I'm pretty sure that the those ups outweigh the downs. Well, most of them at least. I made some wonderful new friends, found something that I absolutely love (but have yet to ever really discuss on this here blog... wording, really. Things just got weird.), AND JD graduated law school and got admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. (New York is still to come.)
Holidays are the perfect excuse for a little champagne, or prosecco. Fancy dresses, sparkly drinks, decadent desserts. They all go hand in hand, and make me think of Versailles. Or at very least any of the party and/or shopping scenes in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. Very recently, it was suggested that I make champagne truffles for the holidays. The perfect treat for a New Years party. So I did a little research and adapted a recipe of Martha Stewart's.
What you'll need... 1/2 cup of heavy cream 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of champagne* Coarse decorating sugar, optional Makes about 25 truffles How to make... Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat immediately. Place chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute before stirring. Stir the chocolate and cream together until smooth. Add the champagne and stir until thoroughly mixed. Refrigerate until firm. Once firm, use a melon baller or teaspoon to scoop out truffles. Roll into a ball, about 1 inch, and place on a baking tray or in a tin lined with parchment paper. This time I to used mini baking cups to make serving a little less messy. Sprinkle with decorative or coarse sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to three days before serving.
* I decided to use a brut, since I was concerned about the truffles being too sweet.
I know it's a bit late for such time consuming cookies, but I thought I'd share this recipe anyway. Why not? A while back JD and I made rainbow cookies from a recipe given to us by a friend. They came out perfect but it has since been lost and I foolishly didn't post it to the blog, just photos. What on earth was I thinking? So we did what any reasonable person missing a recipe with a craving would do, googled. We ended up choosing two very similar recipes and combined, then changed them. Manhattan grocery stores don't believe in eight ounce containers of almond paste.
The cookies came out a little different than last time, more solid and less cake, but delicious none the less. Without further adieu, the recipe...
What you'll need...
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup of sugar
8 ounces of marzipan*
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Food coloring, red and green
12 ounces of raspberry preserves, seedless
7 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
* We substituted marzipan for almond paste since we could not find a container with at least eight ounces in it. They are almost the same thing, the difference lies in sugar content. Marzipan has more sugar.
How to make....
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the marzipan and 3/4 cup and two tablespoons of sugar. It is recommended to use a mixer but we did this by hand. It took quite a while. Mix until it crumbles.
Add the butter, pieces at a time, and mix until well combined.
Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, until the mixture is smooth.
In a separate bowl, sift two cups of flour and add salt. Add the sifted flour and salt to the first bowl and mix until combined.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy, then add the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Whisk until firm peaks form. You may want to use a hand mixer.
Fold one third of the egg white and sugar mixture into the batter, then carefully fold in the rest. The batter should be fluffy.
Spray three 9 x 12 inch or jelly roll pans with cooking spray.*
Divide the batter evenly into three parts. Place the first, uncolored section on a greased pan.
Separate the two remaining sections into different bowls and add food coloring, red to one, green to the other, and stir until blended. Add as little or as much food coloring until you achieve your desired shade.
Transfer the batter to the remaining pans and spread it evenly using a spatula.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown.
* It is often recommended to also line the pans with parchment paper, but we were all out and therefore did not. As long as you've sufficiently greased the pan the world shouldn't end.
Once the layers have completely cooled, spread an even layer of preserves over the entire first layer (green) to the edges.
Carefully lift the second layer (plain) on top of the first and spread preserves to the edges and place the third layer on top.
It doesn't matter if the layers crack or break during the assembly process, the sticky preserves will hold it all together.
Cover the cake with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place a cutting board and several heavier books on top. Let it sit for at least four hours or overnight.* It's recommended that you refrigerate it, but if you don't have the space, room temperature is just fine.
* We used JD's old law school books and let it sit overnight at room temperature.
Melt the chocolate in heatproof bowl above a pot of simmering water.
Since we kept the cake at room temperature to compress, we popped it in the freezer for twenty minutes before we began, the stone cutting board too!
Once melted, pour over the cake and spread evenly using a spatula. If the cake is cold the chocolate will solidify much quicker.
We then placed the cake back in the freezer until the chocolate hardened. Once it was, we flipped it over onto the cold stone cutting board and spread chocolate over the other side.
Once the chocolate has hardened, trim the edges and cut into even pieces.
These cookies are time consuming, but they are worth it.
Hello there. It's been a while. Unfortunately, my recent absence has been due to a bit of computer trouble. You see, my laptop took a spill. Such an awful thing to happen. I'm usually so careful. But everything's all settled now and we're back in business. And by business I mean I can get back to writing not so useful posts about Christmas in New York, how I finally watched Home Alone for the first time ever, and our recent batch of rainbow cookies, "the most expensive cookies in the world" as I like to call them. We used some of JD's heavy law school textbooks as weights to press the layers together. Why not put them to use? a photo recap of the weekend before last.
On a very snowy Saturday we took a walk over to the Flatiron to pick up JD's belated grad gift, a bottle of Highland Park 15. I finally found a place that sells it! Since we were in the neighborhood we braved crowds at Eataly for a delicious lunch of meats and cheeses.
On Sunday we went to Brooklyn to do a little shopping. I got my maple latte from Gorilla Coffee and we picked out the sweetest little Christmas tree, which got to ride in the front seat on the way back to Manhattan. I love it so much.
Then, of course, we made rainbow cookies. And they came out delicious. Recipe to come!
Gifting is usually my thing. I'm good at it and I love watching faces light up, but this year it's just not coming easy, for JD at least. He's got me completely stumped. I've noticed that every store, blog, and person is pushing beer making kits this holiday season. They're awesome and a lot of fun, but JD already has one and he just got a new old fifteen gallon pot.
I like thoughtful gifts that don't necessarily come off a list. Something that shows you put time and effort in and paid careful attention. He does too.
What should come next would obviously be a gift guide, but that would spoil the few ideas I do have, now wouldn't it.
Christmastime in New York is an experience. I suppose the same could be said for most seasons and/or holidays here, though summer is decidedly less pleasant.
This weekend, instead of heading up to Boston for a quiet weekend away before the holidays, we stayed in town and did Christmas in New York things. We admired the lights strung on fire escapes, glittering high above the streets, scouted trees at the corner stands, and consumed holiday themed coffees and treats. Then to complete the experience, we did something we haven't done in years, we got on a train uptown and went to see the tree in Rockefeller Centre. We knew that it would be insanely crowded and difficult to navigate the area with so many people. Even with the police directing traffic, there was a line to cross the street.
Eventually, we made our way past the street vendors selling roasted chestnuts, cold weather accessories, and New York themed trinkets and found a non crowded spot against 30 Rock where we could stop and breathe and snap a photo of the tree. You know, for proof. We sipped our Christmas coffees that were by this point cold and watched people pose for pictures in front of the tree. It takes much longer than it used to, posing for photos in the age of digital cameras. I'm dating myself here, but I remember having to smile and hope it came out good because it was film and you couldn't see if you blinked mid shot or were making a weird face and your mom wasn't about to take forty-five of the same shot until your hair looked good. As a blogger, I am guilty of this of course, but I still find it funny, sad, and interesting.
After the tree we slowly made our way to the East Village to catch a few friends do a really great improv show, followed by a visit to JD's office and eventually ended our day with hot chocolate and pfeffernüsse cookies. It was a good weekend.