Cookies Archives - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with White Chocolate Feuilletine, and a Way to Help the Sandy Hook School Families

December 19, 2012 at 8:27 am | Posted in Candy, Cookies, Dessert, Holiday | 34 Comments
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I know…weird, huh?  Three posts in less than two weeks.  Someone needs to take my temperature.  I have a feeling it would probably register anywhere from 350F to 375F.  So the holiday baking bug bit and it keeps biting..leaving ‘welts’ of butter, flour, sugar and eggs all over me.  How cheesy can I get?  Oh, believe me, there’s more cheese where that came from.

Butter Pecan White Chocolate Crunch Thumbprint Cookies

Before I get to these cookies, I need and want to touch on the Sandy Hook shootings.  I’ve had such pain in my heart since learning of it, and I can’t watch anything about it without choking up incessantly.  Little children are precious, flawless gems, untainted by the harsh realities of what can be a cruel world at times.  They show us the goodness of human beings. Killing them is killing human goodness.

Continue Reading Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with White Chocolate Feuilletine, and a Way to Help the Sandy Hook School Families…

White Chocolate Cranberry Salted Pistachio Drop Cookies and a Giveaway!

December 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Fruit, Holiday | 120 Comments
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Hello, yeah it’s been a while, not much, how ’bout you?

I love that song and it has been a while – almost three weeks to be exact.  Yeah, I know..I don’t post very often anyway (and that will eventually change), but for some inexplicable reason,  this time it feels like I haven’t posted for months.

Chewy White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Drop Cookies

There’s really no major reason behind it other than LIFE stuff and that mysterious ‘lack of motivation’ plague that has been festering inside of me for months.  You know, the one I always complain about in almost

Sorry about that.

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Chocolate Marble Pumpkin Bark ‘Bars’ with a Nutella Cookie Bottom, and Salted Pepitas, for SRC

October 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Candy, Cookies, Holiday, SRC | 51 Comments
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I have never made any kind of chocolate bark.  No idea’s one of simplest treats you can cobble together in no time, and the add-in possibilities are endless.  I’ve also never met or known a guy named Nigel who isn’t British, but that’s beside the point.  There have been a lot of  nevers in my life.  We all have a lot of nevers in our lives and some of them should stay nevers, but chocolate bark isn’t one of that should stay a never, for most.

Well..I just crossed the chocolate bark never off my list.  BUT, this did not come about until I made a no-bake cookie by my Secret Recipe Club blog assignment..Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic.  I love her blog..I loved all the goodies I could choose from..I loved her no-bake Nutella cookies, which I chose after mulling over many goodies.

There are these Caramel Coconut Bars and these luscious looking meatballs..not to mention her array of other no-bake treats, (I was feeling the no-bake this month) but the two former choices were guest posts, so even if she made their recipes, I figured I would stick with something that was 100% hers or something she adapted or decided on herself.

Continue Reading Chocolate Marble Pumpkin Bark ‘Bars’ with a Nutella Cookie Bottom, and Salted Pepitas, for SRC…

Welcome 2012! Smoked Salmon Crisps with Lemon Wasabi Cream Cheese and My Top 5 Recipes of 2011

December 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Posted in Amuse Bouche, Appetizers, Asian, Cookies, Holiday, Hors d'oeuvres, Seafood, Vegetables | 54 Comments
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This post was scheduled to go up at midnight. But I scheduled it a few hours earlier, so in retrospect, this is Lisa of New Years past speaking.  Let me explain…

The reason I initially scheduled this for midnight was because I was invited by Lora of Cake Duchess and Sanjeeta of Lite Bite to take part in a Virtual Party Bloghop to welcome in 2012 , and that’s when they asked us to put it up, at or after midnight.

I kind of cheated and scheduled this post for 9:30 pm because these smoked salmon crisps are so amazing and so amazingly easy to whip up that there’s still a ton of time to make it for a New Years brunch, plus, on the East and West Coasts, you would have plenty of time to whip it up tonight if you’ve got some smoked salmon on hand!  My other reasoning is, it’s already 2012 in other parts of the world, like Europe, for instance.  My family hails from Russia…so let’s pretend I’ve already celebrated with champagne, blini and vodka.  I’m three sheets to the wind..ready for sleep.  Boy it’s cold here!  S Novym Godom!

That said, there’s a bunch of great food bloggers taking part, so once all posts are up, (this party is on until January 7th), just clicking the linky at the bottom of this post will take you to a gallery of gorgeous dishes to celebrate the New Year. The Twitter hashtag is #Welcome2012.  Join us all week long!

Logo created by Heather of Farmgirl Gourmet

Like my Christmas Morning Coffee Cake, these can be anytime hors d’oeuvres, or appetizers.  One would make a great amuse bouche, so I’m thinking this suits all three categories.  I think I need to create an hors d’oeuvres category.

The recipe is by Thomas Keller, from his French Laundry cookbook.  You do not have to smoke your own salmon to make this.  I don’t own a smoker (gave it away years ago because I hardly ever used it – but now wish I didn’t) so I did the next best thing – I bought my smoked salmon from a Jewish deli that smokes their own salmon.  There you go!  There are also great packaged Novia Scotia salmon brands in the supermarkets, so you also don’t need a great Jewish deli nearby to make these.

Thomas Keller is brilliant – a culinary virtuoso, so I really didn’t think I was going to change a bit of this recipe.  Then the thought came to me – smoked salmon, LOX, LOX and cream cheese on a bagel. Bagels with cream cheese and lox has been a food staple since childhood.

I now dub these bagels with cream cheese, lox and onions, REFINED.  Oh, with a lot less calories too, if you don’t eat 3 dozen of them.  Speaking of bagels, do any of you order your bagels ‘scooped’?  This is where they tear out the doughy innards before filling it with whatever you choose, to cut carbs and calories.  I’m sorry, I will try to eat as healthy as I can, but no way in hell am I ever giving up those doughy innards when I treat myself to a bagel with cream cheese, lox, onions, capers, or whatever I’m craving that day. It’s sort of sacrilege to me…it’s the best part!

I totally digress. Creme fraiche is a lovely, tangy topping, and easy to make, but to welcome in 2012, the New Yorker in me felt these called for cream cheese – so I used cream cheese.  When I tasted my cream cheese topping, it needed a little kick.  Wasabi goes extremely well with salmon. I loved it, but you don’t have to use it – it’s fine without it.

One small caveat (another favorite and oft used word of mine) – the baking time for the tuiles in Chef Keller’s recipe was too much.  My first batch burned.  Maybe this is because I baked only one sheet at a time, so if you’re going to do the same, 15 minutes is way too long.  8-10 minutes is perfect, but start checking at 6 minutes.

One last thing before I get to my top posts of 2011.  As part of this virtual New Years party, we were given a list of things to do.  One was optional, asking us to name and link to bloggers who inspired us in 2011.  People who know me in real life would say one thing.  “Nope, she never picks out people and leaves others out, so she won’t do that”.  Yes, that’s the truth..I’m the type of person who will drive my kids crazy by making them invite everyone in the class to their birthday parties when they’re in elementary school, and I still have enough reign/authority to do so.

BUT, to be honest, this is not even a case of leaving people out.  The truth is, every single food blogger I know or don’t know..but read, inspires me in some way, shape or form.  There’s no way I can just choose 5 or 100, it just isn’t possible (Plese don’t misunderstand, there is NOTHING wrong with choosing favorites, whether it be people, places or things – it’s just how I operate), so I’ll leave it at ‘YOU ALL inspire and affect me in so many different ways’.

I’m quite the softie, a blob of silly putty. I can’t ignore, exclude or hurt people. Someone has to do something pretty mean or awful to me for none of the above to apply. Being too nice is not always a good thing in life, and some take advantage, but hey, maybe it’ll serve me well somewhere down the road.  Now back to our scheduled programming – minus the cheese and corn.

Herein lies my top posts of 2011.  I decided to forgo the usual top 10, 11 for 2011, or 12 for 2012.  Instead, 2+0+1+1 = 4, and I prefer odd numbers, so here are my TOP 5 posts of 2011.

1. My Much Discussed Levain Copycat Cookie – This was my first post ever, and it still gets the most hits every year.

2. Possibly the Best Burger Buns Ever – And they are still possibly the best burger buns ever.

3. Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet – Peanut Butter and Chocolate all Decked Out – I loved this so much, I’ve made it twice since.  Best Lowel Ego Light photo ever (for me).  Could never replicate the lighting and sharpness of this photo again – weird Lowel Ego juju moment.

4. Three Pies in One – Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie – Need I say more?

5. Candy, Candy, Candy I Can’t Let You GoAlmost everything candy, from tempering chocolate to pate de fruits.

Well..that’s all folks!  Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!!  See you in 2012!  Don’t forget to click the linky below!

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Smoked Salmon Crisps with Lemon Wasabi Cream Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 2 to 3 dozen salmon crisps, depending on size of tuiles
Recipe for tuiles and salmon adapted from Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook
  • 4½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 chilled large egg white
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Black sesame seeds
Smoked Salmon Topping
  • 4 ounces sliced smoked salmon, finely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons very finely chopped shallot
  • 1½ teaspoons very finely chopped chives, plus a few snipped, for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground white pepper
Lemon Wasabi Cream Cheese Topping
  • 4 ounces (half a package) cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • pinch of white pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon wasabi powder or paste (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the egg white and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Spoon about a teaspoon of the batter, each 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and spread to 2-inch rounds. I make my own tuile batter stencils so I get uniform shapes. To do that, take a plastic cover from an empty tub of margarine, rice pudding, or whatever you have on hand, cut off the thick rim, then draw your shape onto the side you won't be spreading batter on. Poke a hole in the middle with a knife, then cut out your shape following the outline. You can see mine in the collage above.
  3. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake in the upper and middle third of the oven for about 8-10 minutes, shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back, until the tuiles are golden and fragrant. Let cool.
  4. While tuiles are cooling, make the lemon wasabi cream cheese topping. In a medium bowl combine the softened cream cheese, salt, wasabi powder (if using), white pepper and heavy cream. Beat until smooth and fluffy Stir in the lemon zest and place into a piping bag with the tip of your choice, or a ziplock bag with one end snipped off. You can just spoon it on each salmon crisp if you prefer. Set aside.
  5. Make the smoked salmon topping. In a medium bowl, combine the salmon with the shallot, chopped chives, lemon zest and a pinch of white pepper. Spoon the salmon onto the tuiles and top with a dollop or piping of the lemon wasabi cream cheese. Garnish each crisp with a few snipped chives. Make Ahead - The tuiles can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars for SRC and #cookielove

December 5, 2011 at 10:58 am | Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Holiday, Puddings, SRC, Vegetables | 50 Comments
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I think I need to come up with a shorter name for these, huh?  I was thrilled when my Secret Recipe Club blog assignment arrived and the blog assigned to me, Megan’s Cooking, had a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Bars.  I’ve seen these all over the net and they’ve been bookmarked forever.  That said, I loved getting Megan’s Cooking because even though I had my heart set on these, there were so many amazing recipes to choose from, so if these didn’t work out, the sky was the limit.  On my holiday baking list, her No-Bake Nutella cookies, Pistachio Bites etc.. among many other great cookie recipes she has, not to mention everything else outside of cookies!

OK, OK…YES, another pumpkin recipe.  I had two sugar pumpkins left for roasting, so I’m NOT done with pumpkin yet!  In fact, my next post is something awesome with pumpkin, and I’m sure I’ll get at least another one in before the New Year.  Did I tell you I love pumpkin?  Is it that obvious?  4 pumpkin recipes in a little over a month – I guess it is.

I also love Nutella.  More than pumpkin, possibly more than most things.

Nutella is something I truly believe you can eat on anything outside of proteins.  Hmmm…then again, I think I’d even try a Nutella roast turkey, wouldn’t you?

Nutella reminds me of my roommate (The only normal one, but what’s normal?  Am I normal?), at the rehab facility where I was getting physical therapy for my knee, who shattered her ankle, so we both had wheelchairs with leg extenders.  People always knew when we were coming around the corner because they saw leg first.  We even leg extender crashed into each other several times.  Thanks to her husband’s many trips to the market for ‘good’ food for us, we each had our own jar of Nutella.  One morning I woke up – the sun glaring through the window, but not as brightly as Sharon’s smile.

“I just spread Nutella on my toast and I’m so happy!” she exclaimed, with a thousand watt smile.

I pulled over my breakfast tray, pulled out my jar of Nutella, and was soon just as happy.  Physical therapy was somehow a little less painful that morning.

So, here I was, one bowl of beige snickerdoodle cookie dough, one bowl of pumpkin pie topping.  As great as the bars would be just ‘as is’- it needed something.  These were blank canvases just waiting to be painted.  Out came my chocolate chip brush, all over the cookie dough – about 1 cup.  After I pressed it into the pan and spread the pumpkin cakey pie filling on top, there it was again, that blank canvas.  I knew exactly what it needed.  I was going to make this pumpkin pie topping A LOT happier.  As you can see, I did.

I also added a bit of cinnamon to the cookie dough because even though these bars are topped with cinnamon sugar – the base is simply a plain cookie, or in my case, a basic chocolate chip cookie dough without it.  It needed to live up to it’s name, it needed to be more ‘snickerdoodley’.

On another note, I have some news for you all.  I found some natural light in my place.  Now, it’s not bright, it’s not direct, it’s simply a 12-inch or less square of light that hangs out until about 2pm.  I noticed it accidentally when I was on my hands and knees looking for something in that area and saw it spread across my hand.  It was like a handshake, a Hellloooo, Lisa!  I immediately grabbed my camera, placed an apple in this tiny area and snapped away. Not great, and nowhere near enough light, or room for a tripod.  Not to mention, it was a little blurry, and well, a little uncomfortable since I have to contort my body to take photos in such a small space, but definitely a little more of those food details I’ve desperately coveted for a long, long, LONG time.

Now I have to find a way to work with this small amount of mediocre light, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet, even at 1.8 and 2.8 f-stops.

This doesn’t mean I get to totally eradicate my Lowel Ego lights (in fact, this post is a bit of both), but it does mean that every so often, with a lot of post process lightening, I can see the glisten of an egg yolk, the swirl within a white frosting, the juice dripping from a slice of beef, the delicate crumb of a cake, etc!.  An underwhelming, semi excited ‘yay’.  I’ll take anything at this point, anything!!

UPDATE – scratch all of the above…it was a fluke patch of light.  Figures.

Now for the linky’s, and once again, I have two.  First, the blue froggy from this month’s Secret Recipe Club for Group A.  Check out all the great recipes prepared from everyone’s blog assignments!

Second…cookie love!  Please join in on the #cookielove fun by linking up any cookie recipe from the *month of December 2011. Don’t forget to link back to this post so that your readers know to come stop by the #cookielove event! The twitter hashtag is #cookielove. Wait until you see all the fantastic cookies, plus, it’ll give you more than a few ideas and recipes for your holiday baking!

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Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars
Adapted from Megan’s Cooking via Julia, author Of Dozen Flours- with my revisions

Snickerdoodle Layer
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup mini-chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

Pumpkin Pie – Nutella Layer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups fresh roasted or canned pumpkin puree
1/2 to 3/4 cup Nutella

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1.  Lightly butter or oil spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or dish.  If desired, line with parchment paper, two edges hanging over, so you can lift the whole uncut bar out of the pan for easier cutting.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture into the egg mixture until uniform. Stir in the mini-chocolate chips. Spread the dough as evenly as you can on the bottom of the pan.

3. In a mixer bowl (you can use the same one you used to make the snickerdoodle dough) with a paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar (You can also use a hand mixer, or a just a spoon) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. This mixture is looser, so pour/scrape over the snickerdoodle layer, smoothing out the top. Preheat oven to 350F.

4.  Drop tablespoons of Nutella over the top of the pumpkin pie mixture.  About 4 rows of three dollops.  Marble gently with a knife or spoon.

5. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

6. Bake at 350F for about 35-45 minutes, (depending on your oven..for some, it has taken longer) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bars cool completely (about an hour).
7. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars.  Drizzle cut bars with melted chocolate (better to drizzle them when cut so some chocolate drips down every side).

8. Let chocolate set or eat them before the chocolate sets (which we did). Store any remaining bars in a covered container, preferably in the fridge so they last longer.

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Hot Pink Macarons and a Hot Pink Giveaway Giveaway Closed

November 2, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Posted in Cookies, Fruit, Giveaway, Gluten Free, Jams/Jellies, Macarons | 285 Comments
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I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!  Halloween was postponed here until this coming Saturday.  Although for safety reasons due to falling branches from the October freak snow storm last Saturday, there’s something almost callous about the phrase ‘Halloween has been postponed’, in an automated voice message.  It kind of felt like the voice was mocking us – “Ha Ha!  No candy for the kids today!”. 

Well..I have bowls of candy – and since I don’t want to hand out week old candy this coming Saturday, I couldn’  Has any medical professional ever stated that a candy bar a day keeps the doctor away? I’ll leave it at that.

Having said all that, I ended up skipping this great, big, gory Halloween post I had planned for about a month.  I’m not going to tell you what it was, because I’m saving it for next Halloween, but I will tell you I bought a bunch of stuff to make it happen, and it’s now packed away  – waiting for another Winter, Spring and Summer to pass.  I almost wish I could turn back the clock a week or two just so I could try to fit it in – again.

You see, in the grand scheme of things, this was obviously more important.  I’m a member of Mactweets, a monthly macaron baking challenge.  I don’t play very often because there’s always something that gets in the way.  During the month of October, I was bogged down by a bunch of Fall desserts and challenges, and completely forgot to check what October’s Mactweet challenge was.

On Twitter last weekend, I started to notice PINKtober macaron post links flying by.  I figured it was too late for me to enter, and lamented to Jamie, (one of the co-founders, along with Deeba), that I had two containers of pink tant pour tant in the freezer (I prefer to color my tant pour tant instead of the egg whites and sugar) that I had planned to use for an earlier Mactweet challenge, but never made it, and how perfect this ‘pink’ would be to make macarons for Breast Cancer Awareness.  Jamie told me as long as I got the post up in early November (the round-up is November 5th), my macarons would be part of the round-up.  I separated the egg whites so they could age for 2 days…then got to work on them last night. Here they are.  Better late than never.

Did you know, according to (Donate!)

  • Every 2 minutes, there is a new breast cancer diagnosis.
  • Every 14 minutes, a life is lost to the disease.
  • Over 40,000 people will die this year; about 400 of them will be men.
  • 85% of all diagnoses have no family history.
  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between ages 40 and 55.

All of the above is jarring.  This is why early detection is so key.  Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. – and all adults should do regualr self-exams.  Hint – in the shower, with soap, works really well. 

Another great organization where you can donate is Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has made a huge impact on breast cancer research!

Now that you’ve read all that important info, I also have a great giveaway, and if you stop reading and scroll to the end of this post now, you’ll see what it is.  It’s pretty, it’s pink, it’s something I own myself and actually use more than it’s bigger brother.  OK, go look now, but come back and read the rest of this post, because we’re talking goji berries in buttercream with a hint of vanilla bean, ginger, orange and pink peppercorn.

I’m waiting…*tap tap..twiddling fingers* 

Yeah. I know most of you probably looked before reading anything, and if you got here via Twitter, you already know what it is. ;D

OK..the macarons.  I initially wanted to make a dried cherry or cranberry mousse, buttercream, or cream cheese filling.  When I looked for my dried cherries and cranberries, they were nowhere to be found – in other words, I will find them when I don’t need them.  Instead I found a bag of dried goji berries.  Goji berries?  Yes, I’ve heard of them, but where did they come from?  Was this a message from the healthy gods telling me I needed to start eating these berries?  Well..that was not the case.  Last year, a friend of mine who worked for a huge ‘healthy’ supermarket chain, would constantly bring me bags of all kinds of cool stuff they were sent to sample.  I even have coconut jaggery – among other rare and unique stuff I had forgotten about!

I looked at the dried goji berries. Hmmm..they were similar in appearance to dried cranberries, and some were even pink, which fit perfectly into my macarons to honor Breast Cancer Awareness.  I tasted one – it sort of tasted like a dried cranberry, albeit not as tart.  OK-  goji berries it would be.

I made a paste by rehydrating the berries, then giving them a whirl in my mini-food processor with some orange zest, ginger, and a nice pinch of ground pink peppercorns.  Well – goodbye pink  –  the goji berries turned a deep rusty color once rehydrated and broken down.  No big deal…it’ll add contrast, right?  I stirred it into some swiss meringue buttercream (and now we have the color orange!), and that was that.  It paired well with the sweet, vanilla bean flecked pink shells.

Finally, every time I tackle macarons, they never turn out the same aesthetically (I do believe this is my favorite word).  I think I average about three to four batches a year, and you’d never know I made any of them – no signature macaron ‘look’ like some of the talented macaron goddesses online.  It’s probably because I don’t make them as often, but it’s always fun to see what shape and foot size they’ll take on.   This time, a little flat headed, but huge platform wedgies for feet.  I love them all equally.

Now to the giveaway.  I’m giving away a pink Cuisinart DLC-2 Mini Prep Plus Food Processor. Like I said above, I have one of these and I don’t know what I’d do without it.  It’s so much easier to chop up those small batches that you don’t want to dirty the bowl of the larger processor for, plus it does a better job than the big one on the smaller nuts, seeds, fruits etc.  

That said, what I love about this pretty pink baby, is that a portion of proceeds from the sale of every Cuisinart Pink Series product is donated to help support breast cancer research.

So, who wants this little beauty? To enter, just leave a comment, that’s it.  For four extra entries, you can:

)  Follow me on Twitter, but only if you either A) like me/want to lol, and/or B) would like to be kept abreast  (yes, that was on purpose) of upcoming giveaways!

2) TWEET the giveaway – Pink Cuisinart Mini Food Processor GIVEAWAY by @parsleynsage. Leave a comment to enter!

3) Like or Share the giveaway on your Facebook.

4) Stumble this giveaway.

The giveaway will end November 14th, 15th, 2011 when a winner is chosen using

Hot Pink Vanilla Bean Macaron Shells
1 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
2 large egg whites, aged for at least 24 hours
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 of a vanilla bean, scraped, pod discarded (or put into your vanilla sugar container).
Pink gel food color

1. Place the powdered sugar, and almond meal in a food processor and give them a good spin until combined. Add in the gel food color and pulse until you reach a pink color you’re satisfied with.  I used about 3-4 drops, but remember, the color intensifies when folded with the egg whites, so what looks too light, might be perfect. Let the tant pour tant dry overnight, or spread on a cookie sheet and let dry in a turned off oven for a few hours.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Beat in the vanilla bean scrapings. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

3. Add the tant pour tant (nut – powdered sugar amalgamation) to the beaten egg whites and sugar.  Give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own, it’s perfect and ready to pipe. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple more folds until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10.

4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. 5. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of one shell and top with another one.

 Goji Berry Filling
1/2 cup dried Goji berries (or dried cherries or cranberries), soaked in boiling water, saving water for paste
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
a healthy pinch of ground pink peppercorns (optional but recommended for a slight bite of savory heat in the sweet)

1.  Strain goji berries, saving the water, and place in a food processor or blender with the orange zest and ginger *I used the mini processor for this*.

2. Process or blend until you have a paste like consistency. Drizzle in some of the soaking water if it’s too thick.

3.  Stir goji berry paste into either;

1 cup of your favorite buttercream
1 cup of softened, beaten cream cheese
1 cup of white or dark chocolate ganache

Good luck to everyone in the giveaway!

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