Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine Linzer Cookies

I wanted to make something special for Valentine's day and have always wanted to try making Linzer cookies. I used what I think was a traditional recipe including almonds in the dough.  Some of the recipes called for hazelnuts and some called for almonds. I started with hazelnuts and after burning them all when I was just trying to "toast" them, I resorted to using almonds, which I much prefer anyway.

The Joy of Baking site has a good overview of the history of Linzer cookies and a video tutorial on how to make them.

They didn't turn out as picture perfect as I would like, but they were lovely buttery cookies with raspberry jam inside and a sprinkling of powdered sugar that made for a sweet valentine treat. Next time I'd like to try making them with cutters that have a fluted edge.

My little miss A helped to put a spoonful of jam on the bottom cookie for me to spread and make the little heart sandwiches.  She was excited for when we were done to be awarded a cookie to test!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Banoffee Pie

I discovered banoffee pie in England on a visit to see my family. One of my cousins made this and I fell in love. What is "banoffee" you ask? Well, pretty simple...Banana + Toffee = Banoffee.  It's a pie with a yummy crust made with the English Digestive biscuits, a layer of creamy toffee made with condensed milk, a layer of fresh bananas, a layer of whipped cream and sprinkled with chocolate.

It had been years since I'd tasted this banana toffee concoction until we tried it at a restaurant in the U.S. recently. So, I thought I'd try to make it myself and here was my go at it.

I made the digestive biscuit crust and pressed it into a tart pan with a removable bottom and it didn't turn out too bad.  My failure was in the toffee. It did burn on the bottom of the pan just a tad and didn't seem to set too well.  It did taste good, but I need to try again on this.

Banana layer...easy. Just slice and arrange on top of the toffee. 

The whipped cream layer was quite easy as well.  However, please do not use Cool Whip or any prepared whipped cream of the like. I typically always make whipped cream from heavy whipping cream for any use, but especially for this. 

The final product was quite nice and I'll just have to try again (and enjoy again) to work on the toffee. I referenced a few recipes for this, including one posted on Nigella Lawson's site, but I tried a different method to make the toffee that didn't involve simply boiling the cans of condensed milk so I'll try that next time if I have 2 1/2 hours on my hands, which is rare.