Grand plans were made to post some lovely pink hued macarons in honor of Valentine’s Day! In my mind they were beautiful and delicious and enviable. How hard could macarons be, anyway? I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to baking. I’d say I’m an advanced amateur. And I’m seeing macarons everywhere. If all of those people can make them, then I can. You know what happens when you start thinking like that? You get humbled. Big time. I overestimated my kitchen abilities and wound up with some cracked and foot-less macarons. Apparently macaron baking is a skill that requires practice. Hats off to those of you who make them well. You have my respect forever and always. So I will keep working on my macaron making. Maybe some day you’ll see a post on them! That is if I don’t get too discouraged and give up. Sometimes I do that…
Instead of finicky macarons I went with something I am more comfortable and familiar with, pastry! This would make a lovely Valentine’s breakfast. You can bake it the day before and then just warm it up in the oven briefly before glazing. You could also let it do the second rise overnight in the fridge and bake it in the morning.
With two kids to care for and a house to maintain, a lot of things in my life have become overlooked. Showering, changing out of my pajamas before noon, exercising, reading, spending time with adults, feeding the dog and blogging. I’ve been getting better with the kid blog after starting a photo a day project for 2013. But Hottie Biscotti has been left in the dust. Part of that is due to my time being dominated by being a mom. How some women manage to run a business, look incredible, have immaculate homes, run marathons, home school their kids, make gourmet meals for their families and care for their children is beyond me. But I’ve also been a little discouraged lately. With so many beautiful food blogs out there I find myself feeling like there’s really no point in blogging everyday food from my suburban kitchen and posting iPhone photos. I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others and really bumming myself out. And that’s no way to live.
I am always amazed and flattered when someone I don’t know (or someone I DO know!) leaves a comment on the blog, but it’s not about that. I do get excited when I have lots of hits or if someone has pinned something I made. But it’s not about that either. My recipes are rarely, if ever, original. My pictures are mostly taken on automatic mode of my fancy camera or the iPhone. I don’t have funny stories to tell or inspiring things to say. So, why should I continue to blog? When a friend or family member wants the recipe for something I can always point them in this direction. It’s the best way for me to keep track of what I’ve made, if we liked it, if there were any changes I made or would make in the future. It is my personal online cookbook. And it’s a journal of my life. I don’t keep a physical diary or journal, but when I include a little story with a recipe, like how I made something for some event when so and so was visiting I have memories attached to each post. I can’t be concerned with how my writing, photos or food compare with other things out there. If I base what I do on whether or not it’s popular or if people are impressed with it, I am putting myself up for serious disappointment. So even though I’m never going to write a Hottie Biscotti cookbook or host a cooking weekend for 5 lucky winners, I am going to keep blogging.
Now. On to the good stuff!
Every night I need something sweet. Need. A little bowl of ice cream or a handful of chocolate chips is enough, but I would take a slice of cake or pie every night if I could. Oh, and I’d eat that cake or pie with ice cream. And I might have seconds. It’s a weakness. A terribly delicious weakness. I decided that I should take some time to do some therapeutic baking last week. It had been a while. It ended up being a little stressful. At one point I was holding Betsy so that she wouldn’t cry while trying to stir my pot of browning butter so that it wouldn’t burn. Holding Betsy on my left hip, as far away as possible from the stove, reaching out with my right arm to stir the butter. After I finished the dough it sat on the counter for a good hour before I had a free moment to scoop it out onto a baking sheet. Start to finish, I was working on these for a good 5 hours. It won’t take you that long, unless you too have young children!
I found these to be really buttery and sweet. Almost too buttery, almost too sweet. But just almost. These are good, rich and decadent for sure. I would think you could scale back on the butter, 3 sticks seems like a lot to me, but browning it like this does make the butter have less mass/volume/some science term I should remember, so maybe you have to start with more in order to have enough in the final product? I’m no food scientist. I might mess around with that at some point. In the original recipe (link below) he adds dried cherries and chocolate chips. I threw a handful of cherries in when I had just a little dough left over, enough for about 5 cookies. They were quite tasty, but the cherries are sweet. Sweet cookie + sweet cherries = very sweet cookie. Tart cranberries and bittersweet dark chocolate would be good, if you choose to mix in anything. I liked them plain and simple.
Brown butter: In a medium sized saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once butter melts completely, keep an eye on it. Do not leave the butter. If it burns you’ll have to start over. Stir gently and periodically as it goes through several stages, foaming up, then subsiding, then start to bubble. You should begin to see little brown bits start to form. Those are the tasty bits! Stir to keep those bits from burning. Things may start to happen quickly now and can go from perfectly brown to burnt in less than a minute. So just keep stirring and swirling the pan until the butter is a rich amber color. At this point, pour it into a heatproof bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Then put it in the fridge until it is just firm.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Transfer cooled butter to a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high speed until creamy.
Beat in the sugars and mix until fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time and mix well, then mix in vanilla.
Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Scoop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.