The Passion Fruits

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Tag: sweets

Holiday Treats of Distinction: Sugared Walnuts

I can’t quite face the backed-up sink and the wet “squish” noise the garbage disposal button is making right now (though I suppose I’ve not been electrocuted, so THAT’S good news…). Thus, I’m going to share one of my favorite holiday treats instead.
These sugared walnuts made their annual appearance on Christmas Eve, which we spent at my aunt and uncle’s house. There was always a broad array of tempting sweets, from iced sugar cookies to delicately twisted kringla, fragrant with cardamom. I always partook of these other offerings, but I was really there for the walnuts.

I can’t quite express to you how good they are… the contrast between the meaty, slightly bitter walnuts and their creamy, sugary cloaks pretty much makes for the most addicting thing ever. Just thinking about them makes my eyes roll back in my head a little.

What’s more, they’re kind of unpreposessing to look at, so they’re easily missed on the dessert table. I made them for our holiday party and had to point them out to a few select people–who agreed with me on their superlative tastiness: “Oh my god, I’m so glad you didn’t tell me about these earlier. They’re SO GOOD.”

Also: yes, this has demon corn syrup in it; and yes, unless you want to mess around with little plates of half-congealed sugar, you need a candy thermometer. Blah blah blah, whatever. You really should have the latter, and you just need to get over the former. It’s not like we’re making IV drip bags of double-strength Kool-Aid for preschoolers. Ok, objections dealt with. Let’s get on to the deliciousness…

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Scrappy Faux-gelach: Perfect for Afternoon Tea

If you’re going to make pie crust from scratch–and you most certainly should–it certainly behooves you to not let any of that lovely, buttery pastry go to waste. I, for one, was not about to pitch the racquetball-sized wad of dough I’d trimmed off the two pies I made over the weekend.

I mean, really, once I’ve gotten flour all over myself and the kitchen anyway, it’d be criminal not to put every last bit to good use… and what better use than these little swirls of rich, crisp pastry and tart, jammy goodness? These are actually very closely related to real rugelach as I was using a cream cheese pastry dough.

I rerolled the combined scraps into a 7″ round, spread it with a thin layer of marmalade, sprinkled on some chopped candied orange peel (leaving the very center fairly bare to enable neat rolling), and dusted it all with a bit of cinnamon. I cut it into eight wedges and rolled them up wide end first.

They then got plopped onto their own tiny foil baking sheet, brushed with a bit of egg white, sprinkled with turbinado sugar, and popped in to the oven next to the orange chiffon pie I had baking away. 20 minutes later and out they came, burnished and sparkling and ready for Mr T’s afternoon tea.

Keep Your Cool: The Secret to Perfect Sugar Cookies

Since our friend Kate helped us secure the venue for the fundraiser we hosted on Valentine’s Day, I made sure to save her one of the party favors–a little bag of heart-shaped sugar cookies all tied up in a bow. We also managed to pick up, direct from Teuscher in Zurich, a box of her favorite champagne truffles. And even though the truffles really are mind-meltingly delicious, it’s the cookies she was still talking about last week. As in: “Those cookies. You’re going to teach me how to make them, right? Soon, right?”
So. Sunday was cookie-making day here at the PassionFruits kitchen. There are two critical factors at stake, I’ve found, when one wants to produce the perfect rolled sugar cookie–lovely, buttery, crispy, lightly sweet and with beautifully defined edges.

First, on the flavor front, the right recipe is critical. We used a Rose orginal from her Christmas cookie book, no surprise there. These are the only sugar cookies I will deign to make or eat. Why? Because the leavening agents in other recipes leave a nasty metallic flavor that leaves me wanting to sandblast my tongue. Yes, yes, I know, roll your eyes if you must, but trust me, I can taste the baking soda and it does. not. taste. good.

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