Book Club Bagels

 Book Club BagelsThis month’s book for the book club was The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. Three short novels that take place in New York. I admit it was extremely easy to choose what to bake this time. The moment I read it was a New York story, I knew I was going to bake some bagels, not just because I love them but also because they are a classic New York item.

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Contrary to what you might think, bagels are easy enough to bake. I could even say they are the easiest bread I’ve made so far. You just need the time and the right ingredients . If you want to bake a real New Yorker bagel you need to use malt. The malt powder is obtained by crushing fermented barley grain, and if you add it to your dough it will help break down carbohydrates and release the flour’s natural sugar adding some sweetness your final product. I got my malt powder at a baking supplies shop but you can replace it with honey.

Ingredients (12 bagels ) :

- 910 g bread flour

- 40 g malt powder

- 15 g yeast

- 50 g sugar

- 15 g salt

- 470 g water

Directions:

- In a blender with the hook attachment, mix all the ingredients. Once the ingredients are combined, mix for 4 minutes.

- Divide the dough in 125g balls, if you want regular size bagels; or 80g for a smaller version. The ones in the pictures are 80g .

- After weighing and dividing the dough, shape the bagels. With both hands, roll the dough into a rope 8 inch long. Place one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the rope around your hand to complete the circle. Press the palm of your hand against the table and join the two ends.

- Once all the bagels are shaped, place them on a baking sheet coated with vegetable oil and cover them with plastic wrap. It is important to leave space between each bagel because they are going to expand. Allow them to proof in the fridge overnight.

DSC03806 copy 1024x882 Book Club BagelsThe next morning,  your bagels should look like the ones in the picture above.

- Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bring a pot of water to boiling point and boil each bagel for 15 seconds. With the help of a strainer, take them out of the water and put them on a baking sheet.

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- If you want to add any seeds, such as sesame or poppy seeds -like the ones in the picture-, this is the time to do it. Put the wet bagel carefully on a plate with you choice of seeds and then back on the baking sheet.
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- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool before you eat them.

- If you want to keep them fresh I recommend freezing the bagels and they will remain fresh for more than a month.
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I highly recommend this recipe, there’s no doubt these bagels were a total success. Although there are many steps in this recipe, it is actually quite simple, though the flavours and texture are anything but simple. In addition to the freshness of a freshly baked bread, the malt gives them an original flavor and texture that’s difficult to put your finger on.

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Hibiscus Macaron

This recent trip to New York reminded me how much I love macarons and it made ​​me want to bake more for the blog.

In the past two years macarons have become very very popular. It used to be almost impossible to find them outside of France but now it´s quite common. Once you master the art the only way to make something different is by having a good filling. My way to differentiate my macarons is by using common mexican ingredients for this typical French sweet. My first idea was a mamey macaron, this time I´m making a new one with a chocolate hibiscus filling.

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Chocolate and hibiscus ganache (15 macarons)

Ingredients:

- 200 ml cream

- 100g dark chocolate

- 15g dry hibiscus flower

Directions:

- Heat the cream and hibiscus, remove from heat when it starts to boil. Let it rest for 20 minutes and heat again.

- Train the cream and add it to the chocolate.

- With a whisk stir  the cream and chocolate until it melts completely.

- Put the ganache for 30 minutes in the fridge until it thickens.

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Prepare your favourite macaron recipe and add a little fuchsia coloring. Pipe the macaron onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully place a piece of dried hibiscus to half of your shells and let them stand for half an hour before baking. During the baking the hibiscus will dry and stick to the macaron shell.
DSC03764 copy 1024x680 Hibiscus MacaronOnce the macarons are cold pipe the ganache and cover with the decorated shells.DSC03781 1024x979 Hibiscus MacaronThe result is a chocolate macaron with a very fresh felling to it, perfect for the warmer weather.

Sockertbit

Suckerbit is a candy shop located in Manhattan West Village where they only sell smågodis, or small candies in english.

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In 2010, a Swedish couple decided to open this scandinavian candy shop with the idea of ​​continuing with the lördagsgodis tradition. Lördagsgodis translates to sweet Saturday and the tradition implies that on Saturday kids will buy whatever candy they want for the weekend.

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The idea of the owners was to follow the two main aspects of Swedish sweets. The first one is that everyone gets a bag and selects their on candy, you can pick your favourites tastes and colours. Sockerbirt has over 140 different types of candy to choose from.

image 3 768x1024 SockertbitThe second aspect is that corn syrup is not traditionally used in Sweden, it´s considered to be too sweet. Therefore all treats are sweetened with sugar, also they don´t use any artificial coloring or flavoring.
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Classic swedish candy can be divided into three different types: gummies, marshmallows and slightly salty liquorice. Out of these three types various combinations are made in all kinds of shapes and colors.

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Sockerbit was a dream come true. I am not a big candy eater but when it comes liquorice I just can´t resist. I don´t know if it´s because the original flavour or because in Mexico it´s quite exotic but I just love it.

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In the photo above you can look at all the candy I bought, my absolute favorites are the salta hallon, salty liquorice tubes filled with sweet raspberry and salta pengar, salty liquorice pirate coins.

Azúcar Pastel / Rachel Levit

13256760655 26dfb247f6 o Azúcar Pastel / Rachel Levit

After a long pause, Rachel and I decided to collaborate again. Inspired by our J & R cookies we decided to make a different illustrated cookie line. This time there are only 4 different kinds.

13257113224 39bf41eb97 o Azúcar Pastel / Rachel Levit

Drinking beets

Although this blog may not suggest it, I’m a person who likes to eat healthy. And lately my sisters have been taking this healthy eating to the next level with smoothies. I´m not sure when it started but it´s been going for months and it´s finally rubbing on me. To keep up with them I decided to create my own sweet healthy version.

These smoothies are a quick way to have a balanced breakfast. The idea is to blend fruit with  protein such as yoghurt, chia, cottage cheese or tofu, adding vegetables to get vitamins and also natural fats like peanut butter, almond or coconut milk.

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The idea behind my smoothie was having the closest thing to a dessert but keeping it healthy so my sisters would eat it. I decided to use beets as my main ingredient because I love their sweet and earthy flavor and because they are full of antioxidants and fiber. I also added Greek yogurt for protein, oats and banana for energy and sweetness and finally a little cocoa for flavor.

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ingredients:

- 1 steamed beet

- 1 banana (can be frozen)

- 1/2 cup unsweetened Greek yoghurt

- 2 tablespoons of oats

- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

- 1/2 cup ice

* You can use a teaspoon of stevia if you want it sweeter

Ditections:

- Place all ingredients in blender and blend for 30 seconds.

- Adjust to taste. You can add more stevia, ice or even a little orange juice.

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The result is a fresh smoothie slightly cream with a chocolatey finish. My rookie opinion is that certainly this is the healthiest way to eat dessert for breakfast.

Soufflé

Soufflé is one of my favourite desserts, I just love its airy texture. The problem is that this dessert is a very high risk one since it´s prepared à la minute, that is right in the spot.

Shortly after starting this blog I decided to make a soufflé recipe. The truth is that I learned how to baked these ​​in France during an internship, and I had already baked a few in my kitchen. I thought I was ready. But after six failed attempts and many horrible pictures I realized that Azúcar Pastel had the soufflé curse. I decided to practice some more. A year and a pastry program later the curse was broken.

To celebrate the end of this curse I decided to reveal a few basic soufflé tips.

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- A soufflé is composed of base and merengue. Always keep the 2 times base by one time merengue ratio.

- Add a pinch of cream of tartar to the egg whites and your merengue will be very stable.

- When mixing the meringue with the base, sacrifice a little meringue and mix quickly into the base. Fold in the remaining meringue in 2 additions.

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- Fill the ramequin with the mixture, once filled tap into a table to make sure there are no air bubbles.

- Run your thumb across the outer edge of the ramequin, it will rise more evenly.

- Do not open the oven for the first 10 minutes, check if the soufflé is ready by gently shaking the baking sheet, if the soufflé jiggles it´s not ready yet. It will deflate very quickly if it´s not cook all the way thru.

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I would have loved to remember all these tips before starting to bake. I hope you find this useful.

Sachertorte

The book for this month´s book club was Embers by Sandor Marai. It´s a story of two friends who grew up together in Vienna and met one last time for dinner after being apart for over 40 years. These two friends lived in Vienna while training for the the Austro-Hungarian army.

Choosing a dessert based on this book was very easy, Sachertorte is the Austro Hungarian recipe by excellence.

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This cake was created in Vienna by a pastry chef with the last name of Sacher, the same one who later founded the famous Sacher hotel. The cake was created, according to prince orders, to last during long periods of time so it could be sent as a gift. Today the Sachertorte is one of the most famous desserts in the world. Though there are only two places that can legally label the cake as original Sachertorte. The Hotel Sacher who claims to have the original recipe and the Demel pastry shop who discusses chef Sacher worked and developed his famous cake while working in they’re shop, before founding the hotel. Also the Austrian law makes it mandatory to prepare this cake using butter and chocolate, no shortening or cocoa powder.

Curiously this cake was created in 1832 the same year that Maximilian of Hapsburg was born, also in Vienna. This cake was a symbol of luxury and had one of the most expensive and exotic ingredients of that time, chocolate. It´s very likely that the future emperor grew up with this dessert. Making it quite possible that with the arrival of Maximilian in 1864 the Sachertorte was introduced to Mexico .

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It’s amazing how more than 150 years have passed and this cake is still baked in the same manner and remains a success, as proved in my book club. I also think that while chocolate is no longer an exotic ingredient this dessert certainly retains somewhat exotic in its flavor profile.

2 years of Azúcar Pastel

2bueno 2 years of Azúcar Pastel

Book club cookies

A couple of months ago I started going to a book club but it wasn´t until last week that I decided to make a new series for the blog.The idea is that everyone in the club brings something to eat, so instead of buying something I will bake a dessert inspired by the book we´ve read. This month´s book: The Song of Achilles.

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This book by Madeline Miller tells the love story between Achiles and Patroclus. A story that begins in Phthia and leads then to Troy.

Set in ancient Greece I knew I had to do something with Mediterranean ingredients, but once I finished the book it was very obvious that I had to use figs. In the book figs are Achilles favourite fruit and also a memory of happy times. I choose to make homemade fig newtons cookie.

DSC03465 copy 1024x662 Book club cookiesIngredients:

- 125g butter

- 75g sugar

- 1 egg

- 220g flour

Filling

- 220g dried figs

- 50g sugar

- 100ml water

- Juice of half a lemon

Dinrections:

- In a mixer cream the butter and 75g of sugar . Add the egg and continue beating .

- Once incorporated add a pinch of salt and the flour. Mix just enough to incorporate. Refrigerate for half an hour .

- For the filling diced the dried figs. Put them in a pot with the water, 50g of sugar and lemon juice. Cook until the water is absorbed and figs are soft. Allow to cool .

- Divide dough into two equal parts. Roll 2 pieces of dough lengthwise into a strip 5 inches wide. Put the filling in the center of the whole strip. Brush the edges with egg , fold the edges to cover the filling.

- In a baking sheet with waxed paper put the two cookie rolls with the folded edges facing down. Refrigerate for half an hour.

- Brush the rolls with egg and bake in a 350ºF preheated oven. Remove from the oven once they have a golden color, cut immediately and let cool.

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Helado de fresa

The idea for this dessert started with a single strawberry.DSC03523 682x1024 Helado de fresa

Ok no, it started with a whole basket of strawberries. Last week my father gave me 6 lb of strawberries and since I didn´t have time to eat all of them I made ice cream.

But I consider plain strawberry ice cream boring for Azúcar Pastel so I decided to make a whole dessert inspired in a baked alaska. Strawberry ice cream with candied strawberries, soft chocolate cookie covered with meringue.

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* You will need an ice cream machine, cupcake silicone molds, a sugar thermometer and a torch. The recipes yields 12 individual desserts.

Soft chocolate cookies

I could not decide between a cake or a cookie for the dessert base. I chose a little bit of both and baked whoopie pies.

Ingredients:

- 220g flour

- 100g of cocoa powder

- 90g butter

- 200g of sugar

- 1 egg

- 1 cup milk

- 1/ 2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

- Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a pinch of salt.

- In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar, add the egg and beat until well incorporated. Add milk alternating with the flour mixture.

- On a baking sheet with a Silpat put 1 tablespoon of mixture for each cookie. A spoonful of batter is enough for a standard cupcake mold, if your cookies spread too much in the oven you can cut them with scissors.

- Bake for 10 minutes at 350°F and let cool.

Strawberry ice cream

Ingredients:

- 4 egg yolks (save the egg white for the meringue)

- 100g sugar

- 230ml milk

- 230ml cream

- 350g strawberries

Directions:

- Beat the yolks with half the sugar. In a pot heat the rest of the sugar with the milk. Once it starts to boil pour some milk over the yolk mixture to temper. Return the yolk mixture to the pot and cook stirring constantly.

- The mixture will be cooked when you can see a line after passing a finger over a wooden spoon. Remove from heat immediately, strain and cool.

- Once cool add cream and 250g of pureed strawberries. Put the mixture in the ice cream machine.

- While the ice cream is turning in the machine chop the remaining strawberries. Put them in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons sugar and mix. When most of the juices are reduced remove from heat.

- When the ice cream acquires the desired consistency add the candied strawberries and mix. Fill silicon molds immediately leaving a 1/2″ edge for the cookie base.

- Cover each ice cream with a cookie, pressing slightly, freeze for at least 5 hours and carefully unmold.

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Meringue

Ingredients:

- 100g egg whites

- 200g sugar

- 100ml water

Directions:

- Heat the sugar and the water. When the sugar starts boiling beat the egg whites on a medium speed in the mixer.

- Cook the sugar until it reaches 235ºF and pour slowly over the egg whites.

- With a spatula spread the meringue on the ice cream and torch it. You can keep this dessert up to 3 days in the freezer.

- Remove the ice cream from the freezer 20 minutes before eating.

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