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Hello Bakers,

There are only four days left to Valentine's Day. Here is a lovely romantic macaron to bake for your Valentine - Rose petal and Sea Salt with Champagne Buttercream.

A few weeks ago, I taught this macaron at Great News Cooking School in sunny San Diego.
For those of you who don't know Great News, it is located in Pacific Beach.
Please check it out at I love teaching there. They offer classes and their
shop is stocked with great kitchen equipment.
This recipe was a particular hit with the class and I thought that you all might enjoy it too.
Especially, if you are looking for a handmade and delicious Valentine gift.

For those of you who have taken any of my on ground macaron classes at Sur La Table or my Craftsy class,  French  Miniature Desserts, the techniques are the same.

The Rose Petals and Sea Salt were a great find.
Usually when I make rose petal macarons, I use Tampico rose petals from the spice section at the grocery store or a rose tea from Teavana or Bird Pick.
The rose petals are ground up with the almond meal and confectioner's sugar so either works well.
But I had a feeling that there was something better out there....
Running through the Farmer's Market looking for more rose petals - I had a flash of insight - maybe Dragunura, (the spice shop) would have rose petals - well they did - blended with sea salt no less.
A rose petal/sea salt blend is also available at Spice Station in Silverlake and at other Spice Station locations as well.

These rose petals were food grade, had a beautiful color and were the perfect size. The only problem was that I wasn't quite sure if the salt would effect the shell.
You all know how worried we are about adding anything to the shell.
Long story long - they turned out great - nothing bad happened. I was thrilled.
To keep the feeling of romance strong, I paired this with a lovely Champagne buttercream.
Amoretti flavorings makes a delicious Champagne extract - there are also directions for reducing Champagne or Sparkling Wine to get the same effect - Please do not use the good Champagne in this buttercream - drink it with the macarons.

Here is the recipe. I hope you add this recipe to your macaron repertoire. They are delicious.
If you stay up all night baking them, it's ok - your Valentine will love you all that much more for your efforts.
Please let me know if you have questions - I am here to help.
Happy Valentine's Day Bakers!
It's your day to show off and show your loved ones how much you care>
Happy Baking!

Rose Petal  Macarons (French Meringue)
Makes 30-35 macaron sandwiches 
Note: recipe may be cut in half

Stand or Hand held mixer
Large bowl
Flat rubber spatula
Food processor
Piping bag
#12 Wilton tip or Ateco #803 or any plain round tip with a 3/8” diameter opening

198g sugar
113g  almond meal
113g egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
2 teaspoon pulverized edible, dried rose petals
100g granulated sugar
2 drops of vanilla extract
3 drops of rose extract or rose water

Food coloring – gel colors Wilton or Americolor
Preheat oven to 330 degrees

1.   Pulse the powdered sugar, almond meal and the rose petals in a food processor until it looks like fine meal – about 15 seconds.

2.   Whip the egg with the cream of tartar until the look like light foam.
3.   Rain in sugar – whip on medium high speed until soft peaks form.
The meringue should resemble still be soft and shiny
 Add color if desired and vanilla extract.
4.   Whip until the meringue is at medium stiff peaks.

5.   Transfer to a medium sized bowl.
6.   Fold in the almond meal and powdered sugar in three increments.
7.   Macaronnage until the mixture slides slowly down the bowl.

8.   Pipe.

9.   Let dry until they form a skin. ( 15 - 20 minutes)
10.                Bake at 330 degrees. Check in 10 minutes
11.                If their tops slide then bake for 2 more minutes.
12.                Do not try to remove from parchment or silpat until completely cool

Champagne Buttercream

Storage: Five days refrigerated
Freezer: One month

Whisk attachment
Saucepan –
Instant read thermometer

2 ounces Egg whites
5 ounces granulated sugar

8 ounces butter – cubed and chilled
1 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or ½ vanilla bean scraped + ½  teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons reduced sparkling wine or Champagne
Or 1 teaspoon champagne extract  (available through Amoretti
Pink and Red Wilton Gel Color


1.   Place egg whites and sugar in mixer bowl.
2.   Set bowl over a medium saucepan filled 1/3rd of the way with simmering water. ( The bottom of the mixer bowl should not touch the water)
3.   Whisk on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture registers 156 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
4.   Remove the bowl from the heat and attach it the stand mixer. If using a hand mixer – make sure the bowl is stable.
5.   Whisk on medium high speed until the mixture is at room temperature.
This can take 4-6 minutes.
6.   Add the butter one piece at a time – adding each additional piece as the previous one disappears.
7.   When all the butter is added and the mixture looks fluffy and well emulsified – change to the paddle attachment.

8.   On low speed add in the vanilla and Champagne extract.

Leftover assembled macarons should be refrigerated.

Rose Macaron assembly
Rose Petal and Sea Salt Shells
Champagne Buttercream

Hello Bakers,
Baking with Colette has made the final list for Craftsy Blog of the Year in the Cooking Instructor
A huge Thank You for all your support!
Here is the link to vote. Thank you if you saw my post on Facebook or Twitter and voted already!

Hello Bakers,
I wanted to announce the latesr Craftsy flash sale. Two days only. Jan 17 and 18!
Sign up now for that class you have been waiting to take.
Please use this link.
Happy Baking!
Hello Bakers,

Welcome to my first post of 2015!
It is Winter here is SoCal and citrus is everywhere. It seems like every yard has some sort of citrus tree loaded down with beautiful fruit.
I was raised in downtown Chicago and spent eight
years living on the East Coast. BRRRRR!!!! For someone like me - to be able and pick a lemon off of a tree in my back yard is nothing short of amazing.
Actually, I do not have a lemon tree in my backyard - I am writing to you from my downtown loft. However,Craig and Kim (my beautiful kids) have a lovely Meyer lemon tree in their backyard.
See photo above.

Citrus is so an essential ingredient to good cooking and baking. It has so many functions - it balances flavor, tenderizes gluten and is amazing on it's own.
Citrus juice freezes beautifully so if you have an abundance of citrus - you can go ahead and freeze the excess juice.  For those who are super organized, you can freeze the juice in ice cube trays and
then pop them into Ziploc bags once they are frozen solid.
I know this technique sounds impossibly '80s but it is great to have cubes of frozen flavor enhancers at your culinary disposal. You can handle stock, pesto and tomato paste in exactly the same way.

But I digress - now back to Baking with a capitol "B"
Years ago, in a dessert class taught by legendary pastry instructor Nick Malgieri, I learned that, as far
as dessert recipes go, people far into two categories - those who love lemon and those who love chocolate. I believe this wholeheartedly - Nick was right. I have used this principle in teaching for years - especially when it comes to writing great dessert menus.

The following recipe is for those who love, love love lemon.

Luscious Lemon Bars is the recipe that follows....these are really delicious - the lemon flavor
is not too tart and not too sweet and the crust is the easiest one you will ever find.
No pate sucree - no chilling - and the brown sugar gives it a little flavor edge.
The reason for that is the molasses in the brown sugar - just that little note of bitter to counteract the
sweetness of sugar. Perfect.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and it makes it into your cookie repertoire - these are great for bake sales, bringing to the office and simple weeknight desserts.
If you have any questions please let me know in the comment section.
Happy Baking!

Lemon Bars
Yield: approx. 24 small or 12 medium bars
Oven:  350 degrees
Pan Prep:
1 quarter sheet pan
Brush pan with pan spread
Line with parchment paper and leave a one inch overhang of paper on both short sides of the pan.
(this makes it easy to lift the bars out of the pan for easy portioning)
Do not butter the parchment paper as the shortbread base will release easily due to its high butter content.

Shortbread Base:

6.75 (191g) ounces all purpose flour
4.5 ounces (128g) unsalted butter – cubed and chilled
2.8 (79g) ounces light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt

1.       In a food processor fitted with a metal blade combine all the dry ingredients.

2.       Pulse 5-6 times to blend
3.       Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms small lumps and holds together
this should take 30-45 seconds.
4.       Sprinkle mixture over prepared pan and then press the base into the pan – try to make
it flat and compact as possible.
Bake the base until it is golden brown.
Start checking it in 20 minutes

Lemon Filling
** This filling is nice and tart – add the additional ½ ounce sugar if prefer a sweeter taste
4 eggs
6 ounces (170g) lemon juice – Meyer lemons preferred but any variety will do
11 ounces (312g) granulated sugar
1.5 ounces (43g) all purpose flour – sifted
Very fine zest of ½ a lemon – optional
Garnish:  Sifted powdered sugar

1.       In a bowl whisk together the eggs and lemon juice.
2.       Add the sugar, flour and zest (if using).
3.       Pour onto the hot shortbread base.

4.       Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
5.       Bake until set – start checking in 25-30 minutes.
6.       The filling should be set.
7.       Let cool and garnish with powdered sugar.

Storage: These cookies keep three days refrigerated in an airtight container.

Hello Bakers,

My latest Craftsy class is live today.
Macarons, Madeleines and live on Craftsy.
Never struggle with your macarons again.
Please check out the class.

Happy Baking!

Hello Bakers,

Today's blog post is about granola. How to make really delicious granola.
I never buy granola. I make granola. I am a granola snob.
My granola roots run very deep. This is a truly delicious recipe and holds a place deep in my heart.

Years ago, I worked as a private chef for a group of residential Americorps volunteers,
stationed in Hawley, Massachusetts.
The kitchen was in the main building, it was huge, had two commercial ranges and a solid oak walk in. It was a great kitchen.
The buildings were built in the 1930s - the kitchen window looked out onto the pond.

I cooked mostly vegetarian fare on budget that was beyond meager.
But in summer there was the garden - which the volunteers tended and the local coop full of bulk items. Somehow it all worked out - we always had enough.

I baked and cooked everything from scratch and this granola was a mainstay. I made it twice a week.

The volunteers took on trail with them - their summer months were spent rebuilding YCC (Youth Conservation Corps) trails throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 
In winter, they ate it on top of oatmeal for breakfast or took it for lunch when they went off to teach environmental education in the local schools.
The inspiration for this recipe came from the Curtis and Schwartz cookbook. 
Sadly, this wonderful cafe closed in 1997 - I am sure there are people in Northampton that miss it to this day.
Cooking for the Americorps  volunteers was a unique experience as far as private chef life goes - but I truly loved it - although I didn't make much money - I was able to make a difference.
Happy Baking!

Granola Recipe

2 cups (7 ounces) of whole oats (preferably organic)
½ cup (2 ounces) of walnuts
1/2 cup (2 ounces) of sliced natural almonds
2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) sunflower seeds
3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) pumpkin seeds
1 Tablespoon (½ ounce) sesame seeds
½ cup (2 ounces) cashews
3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon of peanut butter

Extras to be added after baking:
Any dried fruit, raisins, cranberries, blueberries and diced dried apricots

Baking sheet lined with Parchment Paper
Small saucepan
Large bowl for mixing
Heatproof spatula

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.   Arrange all the dry ingredients in separate flat piles on the baking tray.
3.   Toast them for 10 minutes – the coconut will begin to turn a light golden brown.
4.   Once toasted, pour the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

5.   Place all the wet ingredients in a small saucepan and bring them to a low simmer – whisk until smooth.

6.   Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dry ingredients are lightly coated.
7.   Spread the mixture onto the parchment lined sheet.
8.   Bake for 8 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, place on a heatproof surface and stir evenly. Place back in the oven and bake for another 8 minutes, remove and stir.
Repeat this process until the mixture is golden brown.

9.   Add any dried fruits to the granola while it is still cooling.
10.                Granola keeps for several weeks, stored in an airtight container.

Garnish with yogurt, fresh fruit or stir it into your oatmeal.

Hello Bakers,

How many of you have been disappointed by supermarket bagels or even chain bagels?
I know I have been - driven by desperation to grab a fluffy processed bagel or a bag of them.
I used to try to convince myself that these things would be ok once they were toasted but
they aren't. Nothing is as delicious as a well made bagel.
Bagels are easy for us to make at home. Bagels rise (or ferment) only one time. Then they are poached, shaped and baked.
They can be topped with anything or nothing. The choice is yours.
Bagels are also a fun project to make with kids. They especially enjoy the shaping and the eating.
My culinary students turn into kids on bagel day - the only thing that makes them happier then
making bagels is making cinnamon rolls.
Another plus for bagels is that the baking time is short compared to other yeasted breads making a bagels a natural choice for summer baking.
Homemade bagels freeze for up to one month.

My go to bagel formula comes from Michael Kalanty's excellent book "How to Bake Bread",
published by Red Seal Books.
If you enjoy making bread and you do not have this book order it immediately.
This is the book.

I use this book as a textbook in my Artisan Bread Class at the Art Institute of Hollywood. All of the breads in the book are delicious and more importantly, they all work perfectly.
Chef Kalanty is a friend and colleague of mine and it is with his permission that I can pass the formula
on to you.
My only change is that I add a little more honey to the liquid the bagels are simmered. Years ago, I took a field trip to Montreal to study bagel making and noted that the bagels were boiled in a honey and water mixture.
When I asked the bakers how much honey was added to the water, they told me enough to make it look like weak tea.
There are two great cities for bagels in North America, one is New York and the other is Montreal
If you do not live in New York or Montreal you only option is to master the recipe that follows and make your own.

Bagels -
(Formula reprinted with permission from the author and publisher)

This recipe yields 12 - 4 ounce bagels
It is best scaled in grams.

A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment
or a a dough whisk and a good sized mixing bowl.
A baking sheet lined with parchment brushed with vegetable oil
A large pot filled 1/3 of the way with water. Add enough honey to the water so that it looks like
weak tea.
Skimmer or Spider for fishing your bagels out of the boiling water
XL Ziploc bag for proofing, cup for hot water
Oven Temperature: 375 degrees

505g water (cool body temperature)
5g Instant yeast
10g sugar
15g canola oil or non-olive vegetable oil
450g Bread Flour (I use King Arthur Bread Flour or Gold Medal Better for Bread)
15g salt

Optional toppings: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, kosher salt.
You can also make an everything mix with equal parts sesame seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, garlic flakes, onion flakes and kosher salt.

1. In a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast, sugar, oil, flour and salt.
2. Mix on speed one for about 4 minutes until the dough reaches "clean up" stage.
3. Increase to speed two and mix for 3 more minutes. You may here the dough slap against the side of the mixer bowl. In bagel speak this is referred to as the dough being "bucky".
4. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and knead it briefly by hand.
5. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl and place in a warm spot to rise.
If you are a devotee of my Ziploc bag technique - place the bowl in the bag with a large cup filled 3/4s of the way with steaming water. Zip the bag shut and let the bagels ferment for 1 hour.
The ideal proofing temperature is 80 degrees.
6. After an hour, gently degas the dough and divide it into 4 ounce (114g) pieces.
7. Shape the pieces into rough torpedo shapes and let rest on your work surface, covered, for 15 minutes.

8. Turn the heat on under your pot of honey water - bring it up to a simmer.
9. Roll the bagels into a strand about 12-14" long. Join the ends by overlapping them. Roll over the join with the palm of your hand.
10. Once all the bagels are shaped poach the bagels in the simmering water for 20 seconds on each side. Place them on the oiled baking sheet about 2" apart.
11. Sprinkle with desired toppings. If the tops of the bagels become dry, spray them with a little water so your toppings will stick.
12. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.
13. When the bagels are done they are an overall golden brown. They should not feel heavy or look pale. If they do bake for an additional 5-7 minutes.
Happy Baking!

Hi Everyone,
This morning I discovered that I completely missed the two organic Honeycrisp apples in the bottom of the
big Ikea fruit bowl. Poor things - the had been covered over by the bananas, pears and cara cara oranges.
Well, they were two wrinkled to eat and they would not have made enough sauce to feed a baby if I had one.
The only thing to do was to turn them into this delectable bread. There is something so old fashioned and comforting about this loaf cake. It reminds me of my step grandmother's apple cake - it was baked in a 9x13" pan and iced with a boiled cider icing.
The loaf version is a little lighter on oil and sugar - the cinnamon sugar stands in for the icing.
Enjoy a thick slice with a mug of steaming coffee or tea. It is also perfect to brighten up a packed lunch
Happy Baking!

Cinnamon Apple Loaf
Yield: one loaf

Oven: 350 degrees
Pan Prep: Grease or spray an 8 ½”x 4” loaf pan and line the long side with parchment paper.
The paper should extend over the edge of the pan by 1”.

1 ½ cups +1 tablespoon (6.75 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
¾ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cups (5 ¼ ounces) sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) melted butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs

2 apples, peeled and cut into small dice or grated
Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Topping: Cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup sugar + 2 teaspoons cinnamon)

1.       Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl.
2.       In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, melted butter, vanilla and eggs until smooth and light in color – about 2 minutes.
3.       Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix only until they are combined.
4.       Add apples and optional nuts.
5.       Pour into prepared pan.
6.       Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar

7.       Bake for one hour – check the center with a skewer or cake tester.
8.       If the cake tester does not come out clean – then bake for an additional 7 minutes and check again.
9.       Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a rack
This loaf freezes beautifully - up to one month.
Hi Everyone,

I am so excited to announce that my next Craftsy class is debuting this week.
Click on the following link to register to win the class for free.
Good Luck and Happy Baking!

Hi Everyone,

The Thanksgiving Croissant post is live on the Craftsy Blog.
Please check it out - leftovers and croissant dough = magic!
Happy Baking!

Hi Everyone,

Recently, one of my students, Tyler gave me some fifty year old sourdough starter. 
Yes, fifty years old and rocking strong.  We had about 12 ounces and we promptly named him "50 cent" after the rapper.
Tyler had been working at Chef Phillip Lee's restaurant "Scratch" on La Cienaga in Los Angeles. "50 cent" had been brought to the kitchen by one of the sous-chefs, Ryan.
50 cent had been in Ryan's family for fifty years. He looked and smelled great. He is the George Clooney of starters.

 When he arrived 50 cent was more bubbly and strong then my beloved starter, Sofia. Great care had been taken of him over the years. I was very impressed and delighted. A new family member - Sofia's long lost grandfather.

I began feeding him 50% filtered water and 50% Harvest King Bread flours I was instructed. At home, I use Gold Medal, Better for Bread to feed my starters and for my bread baking.
The other important thing I did was to bring a portion of 50 cent home - just in case something would happen to the refrigeration at work and I would lose him. 
I have some Sofia at home as well. I keep them both strong and healthy - it's important to always have a back up when you are working with sourdough at work.

Yesterday I made my first baguettes with 50 cent. They turned out great. The recipe is inspired by the River Cottage Bread Book.
The dough is very sticky but it needs to be for a good open crumb.
It can also be overnight fermented in the refrigerator to develop more flavor.

yield: 2 baguettes
330 grams water
3-5g instant yeast (use less if the starter is very active) (optional if your starter is very strong)
4 ounces starter 
500g bread flour
10g salt
1. Combine water, yeast and starter in the mixer bowl.
2. Add flour and salt.
3. With the dough hook on speed 2 mix the dough for 4 minutes until it clears the side of the bowl.
It may stick to the sides and the bottom of the bowl - resist the urge to add extra flour.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and stretch and fold a few times to smooth the dough.

5. Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and let rest for 45 minutes.
6. After 45 minutes, stretch and fold again. Repeat this process 3 more times.
7. Let the dough rest 10 minutes after the final fold and divide in half.
8. Shape into logs and let rest for 10 minutes, covered. **They were covered right after I took the photo.

9. Shape into baguettes, place on a parchment lined floured sheetpan or in an oiled baguette tray.
10. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
11. Place the baguettes in the proofing bag with a mug of steaming water.

12. Let proof until the baguettes have risen about 1/3 and have a marshmallow texture. The baguettes are proofed when you gently squeeze the sides of the baguette and you finger indentation does not spring back.
13. Dust the baguettes with flour, slash the baguettes (5 slashes are typical) and lightly spray the surface with water.
14. Place the baguettes in the hot oven and spray the oven door with a light mist of water.
15. Check at 25 minutes. The baguettes should be golden brown and feel light when you pick them up.
Use a towel or a oven mitt as they are hot. They will probably need a 5-7 minutes more baking time.
If the baguettes are getting too dark, turn the oven temperature down 25 degrees.
Let them cool and enjoy.
Happy Baking!
Hi Everyone,

I am so thrilled that the sugarwork I did for Revlon last year is now in print.
So exciting. It is in major fashion magazines and on billboards.
I found it on this one at National and Overland Boulevards in Los Angeles.
Happy Baking!