Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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    BreadBakingDay #28 - last day of submission April 1, 2010
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Lemon Ginger floating Macarons – MacAttack IV

Posted by osakaben41 on April 5, 2010

That time once again for all Mac-obsessed bakers to strap in and get with the piping.  Our challenge this month was to base a macaron on an April Holiday.  My son turns two on the 5th, but you have no idea how hard it is to make Thomas the train macarons.  In Boston we celebrate Patriot’s day, so thought of a red/white/blue cookie, but it seemed too obvious.  Rather, I went with an April Fools day approach. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Lemon, Macaron | 11 Comments »

Tonka Bean Madeleines

Posted by osakaben41 on April 4, 2010

Let me start by saying, I don’t expect this post to land me in jail, but I’m not 100% on that.  In the endless search for new things to experiment with, ingredients, techniques, or kitchen toys, it’s a rare and beautiful thing to find one that’s illegal.  Unlike most countries in Europe, The US does not allow the import of Tonka Beans (at least those to be used in food preparation).  The general concern is that these seeds contain the chemical coumarin, which can act as a blood thinning agent.  Taken in large doses, it can be fatal.  Oddly enough, you would think it’d be important to define “large doses”, but I haven’t come across that yet. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cookies, Lemon | 3 Comments »

Pink Peppercorn-Thyme soda

Posted by osakaben41 on March 31, 2010

Just a quick one here.  My daughter is home sick from school and wife is out of town.  It’s gray and wet outside, so what do we do?  We cook.  Well if you consider making savory soda cooking that is.

This come from a back issue of Bon Appetite, and just sat there at the back of the line, waiting for its turn.  Totally unnecessary, but sometimes you just have to make something.  And WOW does the house smell good right now.  Overall it looks like a thin bourbon, but tastes almost like a spicy pimms.  The trick is going to be adding just enough syrup so it’s not too sweet, but still has enough kick to stand out as something different.

Besides, it’s nice to be able to use my seltzer machine for something else these days.

Posted in drink, Savory | 2 Comments »

Pistachio & Poppy-Seed Crackers

Posted by osakaben41 on March 31, 2010

I’ve got a new muse these days, hopefully one that will smooth over the issues of “Sweet-lord what are you going to do with all that ________?!?” Normal people ask each other simple questions like, “I’m feeling peckish, wonder what we have to snack on?” My problem however has been “What am I going to do with this bucket of flan I just made?” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cookies, dough, Nuts, Savory | Leave a Comment »

A very chocolate passover

Posted by osakaben41 on March 29, 2010

From the bottom up: Flourless Chocolate Cake, Matzo praline, espresso chocolate cheesecake, praline, flourless cake, ganache glaze, surrounded by chocolate mousse

Dad, am I a Jew?” says the little girl.  No honey, you’re just ‘jew-ish’. 

Such are the stale jokes of yet another mixed-faith couple.  Easter to me as a young boy meant pounds and pounds of chocolate, and gorging on enough jellybeans to swear me off the stuff for good.  Passover was when the lucky kids at school didn’t have to eat the ‘Sloppy Joes’ on soggy white bread.  What I’m saying is, we’re not that observant. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, mousse | 2 Comments »

Nikuman – Bread Baking Day #28

Posted by osakaben41 on March 28, 2010

The trick to being broke in Japan in your early 20s is to know the seams in the system, and how to live off $20/day without dying of malnutrition.  Having spent roughly 2-years there, split between Tokyo & Osaka, I can testify to the number of my people saved by late-night convenience store dinners.  Put aside any thoughts of those 7-11 hotdogs, stuck on hells own treadmill, or the stomach cramping plastic wrapped microwave burrito.  You too can live, nay Thrive, off the occasional $2 meal. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bread, dough, Savory | 8 Comments »

Orange Tian (sort of) – March DB Challenge

Posted by osakaben41 on March 27, 2010

  It’s a strange thing, the places an idle mind will go.  I had every intention of sticking close to this months challenge recipe, but one thing leads to another and here we are.  The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.  

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cookies, DB Challenge, Fruit, Ice Cream, Recipes | 10 Comments »

Chocolate Oeufs a la neige (Floating Islands)

Posted by osakaben41 on March 25, 2010

They say the 100 pleats in a chef’s toque represent the number of different ways to cook an egg.  If that’s true I’ve got at least another 70 to learn, but this at least was a step in that direction.  More commonly known State-side as “floating Islands” Oeufs a la neige (translated from French as “eggs in snow”) usually consists of poached meringue in a creme anglaise sauce. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chocolate, Sauce | Leave a Comment »

Wine Poached Grape Tart

Posted by osakaben41 on March 21, 2010

Some time ago I was asked, “what’s your take on liquor in desserts?”  At that time, my only association was a series of retirement/baby shower/engagement celebration cakes that my workplace would occasionally offer.  Yellow cake with a good inch and a half of white frosting, soaked in rum.  If the sugar overload didn’t send you spinning the illicit two shots in the bottom layer would. 

Lately though, I’m thinking of liquor, or wine in this case, as a way to add another layer of complexity, something that’s not as easy to pin down as ‘lemon’, ‘maple syrup’, or ‘chocolate’.  Besides, it’s how I justify to myself this hobby as a think for adults, otherwise, why not just recreate Reese’s Peanut Butter cups all week long. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Fruit, Tarts | 1 Comment »

Mango-Hibiscus Macarons – MacAttack V

Posted by osakaben41 on March 9, 2010



Mango shells filled with hibiscus tapioca, candied hibiscus garnish


That time again, when folks start inexplicably making Macarons again.  MacAttack V is upon us, now with instructions to bake something floral, something bespeaking of the glory of spring, something to get us through the cruel taunting New England March that takes us from shorts and spf 50 to snow-pants and wind chapped cheeks from one day to the next.

Rather than try to shape macs like a daisy (wow is that hard), or serve them on ‘stems‘ (though this is something to come back to later), I wanted to revisit my earlier failure with hibiscus.  That time I ground up dried flowers as finely as I could (not fine enough it turned out), added them to the dry ingredients and went from there.  As I’m starting to learn, the shells will almost always taste of almond though, so how best to get a hibiscus flavor in there? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Fruit, Macaron, Tropical Fruit | 6 Comments »