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Amanda Clarke

  • Website
  • Location: Brooklyn
  • Favorite foods: bacon, count chocula, fresh bread, cheese in all forms, butter, Upstate New York moon cookies (no dry, sissy black-and-whites for me), red licorice, etcetera (see below)
  • Last bite on earth: Current tie, the three best eats of my life to date: the brisket from Tujagues, New Orleans; perfectly browned corned beef hash from the Blue Benn diner in Bennington, VT; or a freshly fried sugar donut from the farm market in Galway, Ireland

Sherry Yard's Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue Topping

Bushman: This cake does not keep very well, as the meringue has a tendency to weep and shrink, especially in summer-time heat and humidity.

However, you should be able to bake the chocolate cake portion of the recipe, cool it and keep it wrapped tightly in the refrigerator for a few days. Then, the day you want to serve the finished cake, you could pull the base out of the fridge and let it come up to room temp before topping it with the meringue and baking it. I haven't tested this method, but I think it should work just fine.

As for decorations, the meringue is very delicate and cannot support much in the way of decorations. It's also very moist, so colorful decorations applied more than a half hour or so before the cake is to be served might bleed and become unsightly. A sprinkling of metallic dragee-type sprinkles might work, as they do not bleed, but I think they'd have a tendency to collect in the valleys of the meringue rather than sticking to the surface in an even distribution. Ultimately, because the cake is so beautiful on its own, I think the safest, most elegant option would be to just serve it as is, perhaps adorned with a few long, thin birthday candles.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Sneak Peek: Anselmo's Coal Oven Pizzeria, Red Hook

Went on Friday evening. No problem getting a table. Had two small pies: 1) napolitana (red sauce & fresh mozz) with pepperoni and roasted peppers 2) white (no sauce, fresh mozz, ricotta) with green pesto and wild mushrooms. Both were excellent. The crust had a good bit of salt but not too much and held its structure beneath the toppings, even when super hot out of the oven, without being tough. Wild mushrooms didn't really impart much flavor, but all other toppings were really good. Very pleased. And the whole shebang set us back about $20, with sodas (orange and Dr. Pepper - yeeeeah!). Me likey!

Holy Purple Cow! Grape and Milk Together

You're welcome. I'm so glad somebody else in the world has and loves that book. Spaghetti pie, anyone?!

Pumpkin-Spice Marshmallows

Yes, Girlcook, you should be able to substitute both by weight. Glucose is a little less sweet than corn syrup, but it should yield about the same results texturally.

Oh, to live in a country where sheet gelatin and glucose are more readily available than powdered gelatin and corn syrup....:o)

Bacon-Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches: A Lunchbox Favorite with a Twist

Jerzee, I store the sandwiches in an airtight container at room temperature. I've never had any issues with rancidity or any other negative effects, but I've never tried one that was more than two days old -- they just don't stick around that long.

I'm sure you could safely keep them for longer if you did store them in the fridge. If you do, however, I'd recommend bringing them to room temperature before consumption. There's nothing pleasant about cold buttercream, and any baked good has a better texture and flavor at room temperature than it does cold.

I've also had success with storing the cookie dough in the refrigerator for up to two days before baking. The cookies tend to spread a little less during baking, yielding slightly smaller results than fresh dough, but their texture and flavor are uneffected. Hope that helps.

Rachel, you're welcome! And thank YOU for such positive feedback. Good to hear from you. I hope all is well...

Batter, also very welcome. ;o)

Pumpkin-Spice Marshmallows

Sorry for these long-delayed responses. I don't seem to get notifications for the majority of new comments, so comments on older posts often slip through the cracks.

vernete: I'm not sure if it'd be worth going to the trouble of making peanut-butter marshmallows for the purpose of melting them down to make fudge. Peanut-butter marshmallows are, however, possible. I used them, coated in buttery toasted Japanese bread crumbs, as a restaurant petit four for a time - sort of a take on a fluffer-nutter sandwich.

As cyberroo pointed out, mixing fatty ingredients like peanut butter into a marshmallow batter can cause problems. So, to make my peanut-butter marshmallows, I began with a plain marshmallow base and gently folded in slightly warmed peanut butter just before spreading the marshmallow batter in a pan. Folding in the peanut butter, leaving it in well-distributed ribbons, rather than thoroughly mixing it in to the plain marshmallow, is crucial to maintaining a stable, light finished product.

frolis: I'm sure that there is some way to make marshmallows with agar, but I've never tried it. I'll tinker around with it soon, and write up a post if I end up with good results...

Exploring Eggnog

Michele: Thank you. I'm flattered.
Kevin: Such a lovely piece. Thank you so much for sharing. I particularly enjoyed the first paragraph, so very similar to my earliest experiences in the kitchen: standing on a stool beside my aunt or mother, "helping" to make cookies.

All: Thank you for all of your comments and happy new year. I hope that your last few weeks, since this post went up, have been filled with nog aplenty - spiked or sober!

Belgian Waffle's Secret Ingredient Is Beer

Belgian Waffle's Secret Ingredient Is Beer

Please, don't hate on the Genny, bobbob. That hurt just a little bit. :o)

Snapshots from the UK: Turkish Delight

Kerry, if you have the chance while you're there, head over to the Spitalfields Market. There's a stand there (maybe only on Sundays, not sure) that sells several different flavors of Turkish delight by weight - cut into irregular cubes, all fresh and homemade and lovely.

Biscuit Basics

adbw83: This can absolutely be done by hand, though I would literally do it by hand, rather than with a pastry blender, which I find to be better for pie crusts and such where you want to leave chunks of butter than for biscuits, where you largely want the fat to be finely distributed throughout the flour.

If you are not familiar with cutting butter into flour by hand, I find that it helps to take a few extra precautions: have all the ingredients, even the dry ones, well chilled; run your hands under cold water for a bit and dry them thoroughly before setting about the task at hand; and cut butter and cream cheese into fairly small pieces before starting - this will make the work of cutting them into the dry ingredients much more efficient.

Now, add the butter pieces to the dry ingredients. Then, working quickly with your fingertips, mush the butter into the flour in ever smaller pieces, breaking up larger clumps as you go. Once most of the big chunks are gone, you can rub the mixture lightly between your palms to break down any remaining big stragglers and to acheive a "coarse meal" or "fine couscous" texture.

Add the cream cheese and cut it into the dry ingredients in a similar fashion, but don't blend it in too finely or rub it between your palms. You want the cheese well-distributed, but there should still be a few little pea-sized chunks here and there.

From here, you can just pick up and follow the recipe at step 5.

This biscuit recipe is certainly not difficult to manage solely by hand, but I do so prize the efficiency of my food processor for such jobs.

Biscuit Basics

Erinlovestoeat: I have refrigerated the dough overnight - patted out and wrapped tightly. While they weren't as lofty as when the dough was freshly made, they still got some rise, had a nice texture and had the same great flavor. I didn't pre-cut mine, but I'm not sure it would make much of a difference in the finished product if you did.

As for freezing, suschef, I really have no experience doing so with these biscuits. It seems like they'd be alright if they were frozen fully baked, thawed in the fridge or at room temp and then refreshed in the oven for a few minutes. I doubt they'd be as good as fresh, but I'm sure they'd still be enjoyable enough.

Blogwatch: Culinary Fool's Maple Cream Cookies

I'm with habitat67, always get the Voortman's leaves at Wegmans when I'm home. SO good. There's also a recipe for pecan cut-out cookies sandwiched with a maple filling in the Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookie book (and probably elsewhere) from years ago that is a delicious substitute for store-bought.

A Red Velvet Affair

Chari: Red velvet cake is not really a chocolate cake. Though most recipes include a modicum of cocoa, I've rarely encountered a red velvet with a marked cocoa flavor.

Shunafish: To wit, there was no misinformation here. I made no claims anywhere in this article as to the origins of the red in the red velvet. In a follow-up article to address our readers' questions and comments (http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/02/red-velvet-cake-history.html), I did, however, address those origins. What I wrote in that second article seems largely in line with your own thoughts on the subject (re: old-fashioned, non-alkalized cocoa, etc., though I and my research tend to disagree with the claim that red velvet is a direct descendent or another form of Devil's food cake). Regardless, thank you for submitting the link and for your input.

Pjracz10: Unless there is something very unique about your brother's mother-in-law's recipe, I can't imagine why it would be such a challenge. Seems like you should definitely try it some time - the only thing you have to lose is some flour and time, but it seems that you stand to gain much more. :o)

Pumpkin-Spice Marshmallows

Hmmmm...I would say no to the balloon whisk and probably not to the cranky egg beater. Marshmallow "batter" is extremely viscous and has to be whipped a great deal for a very long time in order to acheive a properly aerated result. While it seems technically possible that it *could* be done by hand, I just can't imagine anyone having the stamina to do so. Marshmallows, I believe, are a job best left to an electric mixer of some sort. On that note, a robust handheld mixer (I've burned out a number of cheapy handheld mixers trying to whip viscous substances like marshmallow for long periods of time, so beware) could do the job, but it would probably take twice as long to reach the desired result as a stand mixer, which whips more efficiently (and doesn't require you standing there holding it) than a handheld.

Pumpkin-Spice Marshmallows

kjgibson: Thanks for clearing up the question about the pan size (sorry I was a little slow in catching up on the comments, all). I actually used a half-sheet pan myself, so that'll work, too. You just end up with slightly thinner marshmallows.

etalanian: You're very welcome, and thanks so much for posting your link. The book is lovely - thank YOU!

Holy Purple Cow! Grape and Milk Together

Nice, LadyMarmalade! I love it! So, you never said, was it good, or did you just continue ordering it because you liked the name?

What's Your Favorite Halloween Candy?

Mallow Cups, Butterfingers, Twizzlers, Dots, Almond Joy, Take 5, Jujifruits, Hot Tamales, Safe-T Pops, Sunkist jellies, fruity Tootsie Rolls...Oh man, I miss dumping that sack out on the living-room carpet and diving in!

How to Make Edible Googly Eyes for Cupcakes, Cookies, Etc.

Butterscotch Pudding: Searching for the Perfect Recipe

cook eat FRET: Eek! I'm so sorry that my recipe failed you and your friend, AND that it took me so long to respond to your query. Two quick suggestions come to mind:

1) Make sure that you're cooking the pudding thoroughly. It's very important to keep cooking for that full minute (you can even go two minutes for good measure), stirring constantly, after the mixture begins to bubble/boil. If the pudding is not cooked to a high enough temperature the cornstarch will not set completely and a compound in the egg yolk will break down the starch, hindering its thickening capacity.

2)Be sure to add the butter when the pudding is comfortably warm to the touch (I always use a knuckle to test, as the skin of the fingertips is less sensitive than the skin of the knuckle). There's a good bit of wiggle room here (I make massive quantities of a vanilla version of this pudding every day at the restaurant, and have had success working in the full range of "warm"), but if the pudding is super hot or cool/cold before the butter is added, you may not get the proper emulsion, which is key for the finished texture. After rereading my recipe, I think it should be revised a bit: instead of just setting the pudding aside for 10 minutes or so to cool, try setting the bowl of pudding into a bowl of ice and stirring occasionally until it reaches the right "warm" temperature.

I hope this helps. Good luck, and sorry again for the delay.

An Uncommon Apple Tart Featuring Goat Cheese and Rose

Dessert or Cheese Plate? Blue Cheese Cheesecake Does Both

Thanks, guys!

Oatmeal Crumble:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (1/2# or 224g)
3/4 cup sugar (168g)
1/2 cup brown sugar (112g)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (200g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
300g oatmeal, finely ground* (~1 3/4 cups steel-cut oats or 3-3/4 cups old-fashioned or quick oats)

Cream together butter and sugars until the consistency of wet sand. Add remaining ingredients and mix until mixture is crumbly. Bake at 325F, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crunchy, maybe 15 minutes.

*I've made this crumble with all three types of oatmeal, and it comes out more or less the same regardless of the type used. I think you could make the crumble without grinding (which I do in a food processor or spice grinder, depending on the quantity that I'm grinding) the oatmeal to get more of the oatmeal's texture, but I've never tried it.

48 Hours in Montreal: A Guide to Eating

Well done, Zach! Way to do it up right. Man, I can't wait to get back there....

An Oven-Less Dessert: Steamed Devil's Food Cake

HeartofGlass: I'm pretty sure the difference between Devil's food cake and chocolate cake is mainly one of semantics. Devil's food recipes are always for very dark, chocolatey, moist rich cakes, but they don't seem to follow any specific patterns that distinguishes them from any other dark, chocolatey, moist rich cake. I suspect the name came about as a way to convey and emphasize the "sinful" richness of the cake and as a sort of cutesy apposition to the somewhat earlier white, spongey light angel food cake. I certainly could have accurately called my cake "chocolate cake", but where's the fun in that? :o)

An Uncommon Apple Tart Featuring Goat Cheese and Rose

Thanks, Emmab and Gastronomeg!

Eszarets, I've never had or seen rose hip jam, but the idea of it excites me. As I understand things, rose hips are actually the fruit of the rose flower, as apples are the fruit of the apple blossom, and rose hips are high in Vitamin C, which gives them a more tangy, acidic quality than their floral forebears. That said, I suspect that rose hip jam is more fruity/tangy and less floral/rosey than rose petal jam. Still, I imagine that the rose hip jam would be a lovely addition to the apple tart in place of the petal jam, or maybe paired with a citrus curd or clotted cream on a fresh scone or biscuit or sampled with a sharp cheddar maybe. Yums!

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