Cold and flu season is in full force this year and it does not seem to be ending any time soon. Whether you turn on the news, go to social media, run into friends, or get a call from family, the topic of colds, flu, and feeling ill is going to be seen or heard. Luckily, I have yet to get sick this year (knock on wood). It is a great achievement considering I have Crohn’s Disease, which automatically puts me at a disadvantage in the fight against germs due to a weakened immune system. I attribute my ability to avoid illness to my healthy diet and lifestyle. I initially learned about nutrition in culinary school then again when I went back to school for my medical degree. Pair that with many years of research about my disease and I have learned a great deal about nutrition and how to naturally prevent illness and disease.
The first step is to understand the immune system/gut connection. A lot of people are unaware that about 70% of your immune system is in your gut. In your intestines there are hundreds of billions of bacteria living there. Most of the bacteria is good while some of it is bad. Once the bad bacteria begins to outnumber the good bacteria, that is when your immune system gets compromised and you are at more risk to get sick. The good news is you can have a lot of control over the ratio of bacteria by ensuring there is more good bacteria (aka probiotics) than bad bacteria. Now this does not mean I am recommending you run out and buy a probiotic supplement. You have many opportunities throughout the day to feed your gut immune-boosting foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, yogurt, spices, fresh herbs, and this easy and indulgent chocolate chia pudding.
Although a sweet and delicious dessert or snack, this pudding contains a quadruple threat of four specific ingredients (kefir, cinnamon, honey, cocoa) known to either feed the good bacteria or directly increase its quantity. Fermented foods like kefir are naturally rich in probiotics. Cinnamon, honey, and cocoa are all rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. These properties help build up your immunity by lowering the release of arachidonic acid from the membranes that surround the cells. This process also helps lessen inflammation, which is the leading cause of many chronic health problems and diseases. If you want a sweet treat that will also benefit your health, give this easy pudding recipe a try!
Easy Chocolate Chia Pudding
- 1 cup Plain 1% Kefir
- ¼ cup Chia Seeds
- 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
- ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. Unsweetened Dark Cocoa Powder
- 2 tbsp. Raw Honey
- Dark Chocolate Chips; for topping
- In a medium bowl combine the kefir, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and honey. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 12 hours).
- When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and spoon into small bowls. Top each bowl with a few dark chocolate chips and serve.
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: ERIN MACDONALD & TIFFANI BACHUS
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2018
The cookie section of the dessert table is a prominent feature for almost every culture’s Christmas celebration. Whether it is Gingerbread in America, Pizzelles in Italy, Melomakarona in Greece, Madeleines in France, Kringla in Norway, or Shortbread in Scotland cookies are a must for every family to prepare. In our house we always make sugar cookies cut out in fun Christmas shapes and decorated with different colored frosting and edible adornments.
Aside from our traditional offerings I always try to offer a new cookie for everyone to try and I also share it here with all of you. Typically I make several different cookies around Christmas but this year I have only made two because that is all a 3-year-old and newborn will afford me. I will be making other sweets but cookies were a place I could shave down my offerings and save time.
Now Snickerdoodles are no secret around the holidays. Many Americans already add them to their cookie trays, even swapping out the cinnamon sugar for festive red and green decorating sugar. Although their exact origin is unknown it is believed that Snickerdoodles are German in origin. Although I could have easily stuck with the traditional recipe (as there is nothing wrong with it) I always like to try new things, hence the addition of honey almond butter. I came across some Justin’s brand Honey Almond Butter on clearance at my local supermarket and couldn’t pass up the deal. With a bit of experimenting, it turns out that the addition of almond butter to a classic snickerdoodle makes a fantastic cookie.
The honey almond butter provides a richer twist on the classic recipe while still retaining the signature soft interior and crispy cinnamon-sugar coating that has made this cookie a lasting favorite. Not only is this cooking satisfying but it is also a healthier option to provide for those who may not want to indulge in the extremely calorie/fat laced frosted sugar cookies this Christmas. Merry Christmas and Enjoy!
Honey Almond Butter Snickerdoodles
- 1 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
- 3 oz. Whipped 1/3-less-fat Cream Cheese
- ¼ cup Unsalted Butter; softened
- 2 tbsp. Honey Almond Butter (such as Justin’s Brand)
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 2 Large Egg Yolks; lightly beaten
- 4.75 oz. All-Purpose Flour
- 1.5 oz. Whole-Wheat Flour
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp. Salt
- Cinnamon-Sugar; for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place the brown sugar, cream cheese, unsalted butter, and almond butter in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a stand or hand mixer beat the mixture on high-speed until well combined. Add the vanilla and egg yolks and beat again until well blended.
- In another large bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer on low-speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
- Using a rounded tablespoon, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle tops of the dough rounds adequately with cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating cookies halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on the pans for 1 minute. Remove from pans and place on wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and cinnamon-sugar. Serve.
Weight Watchers: 4 Smart Points, 3 Points Plus, or 2 Traditional Points
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MICHAELA ROSENTHAL
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016
Winter has officially set in and with the bitter cold comes a desire to stay bundled up in bed under the warm covers all day. Having a daughter that is about to turn two in just a few weeks prevents me from exercising such a dream but it does still keep me indoors. Although Florida is not as cold as the rest of the country, having lows in the upper 30’s and highs in the mid 50’s is extremely chilly for us with thinned blood. I was born and raised in Iowa so I was used to the negative temperatures this time of year, but surely after years of being a Floridian my blood has quickly thinned like the crushed ice pellets of a slushy on a hot summer day.
Being that I am stuck inside it leaves me one of only a few options: bake, write, or watch endless episodes of Sofia the First with my daughter. I have elected to write (and still have endless episodes of Sofia the First playing in the background). The recipe I present to you today is another cookie I baked for Christmas that I hadn’t the time to get posted prior to Christmas. Melomakarona (Greek Honey Cookies) are yet another traditional Greek Christmas sweet. I will warn you these little gems are extremely popular because they are extremely addictive. Melomakarona happen to be my favorite Greek cookie I have tried so far. Unfortunately with such fine gems there will always be a catch and these are no exception. Melomakarona tend to be a little more time consuming than other sweets I tend to post but they are ever so worth it. I guarantee once you take a bite of this moist and flavorful cookie soaked in sweet honey syrup you will surely be satisfied with your work.
Now that I dropped the bit of bad news regarding these cookies I can overcome any negativity with a positive. Not only do these cookies scent the house with a wonderful aroma, they are the most perfect cookie to prepare during the busy holiday season. I know I just stated they are more time consuming than other cookies so you are certainly wondering how I can then say they are perfect for the busiest and most stressful time of the year. I assure you I am not crazy. The reason I say they are perfect is because these cookies, although time consuming, can be made weeks in advance and still remain soft and fresh as the day they were made. In fact, it is best that they are made a bit in advance so that the honey syrup has enough time to penetrate the cookie and regain a bit of structure. If you try to serve these cookies right after they take a bath in the honey syrup they will crumble and dissolve into a mess in your hands the second you take a bite (although it will be a finger-licking, delicious mess).
If you would like to be as authentic as possible with the Melomakarona, you will want to purchase Greek honey. I won’t lie this can be rather hard to find and a bit pricey so check out your local International market or shop for it online. You may certainly substitute regular honey but keep in mind the flavor will not be the same. This is due to the fact that Greek honey is extremely thick and made from bees that harvest most of their pollen from the thyme plant, imparting a specific flavor unique to Greek honey. For the final authentic touch, top each cookie with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and a pinch of cinnamon and clove right after they are removed from the honey bath. The cookies displayed in the photos however only have walnuts and cinnamon added since I skipped on the clove as my daughter finds the flavor too harsh if it is not baked into the product. Whichever way you choose to prepare these cookies, each will be guaranteed heaven and a joy to all on the holidays (or any day for that matter).
Note: Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. You will have a good remainder of honey syrup after soaking the cookies. I usually use the delicious syrup to top pancakes and toast but if you would not like leftovers you may cut the ingredients for the honey syrup in half to create a smaller yield.
- 2 cups Water
- 36 oz. Granulated Sugar
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 18 oz. Greek Honey
- 5.5 oz. Thin Semolina
- 18 oz. All-Purpose Flour
- ½ tbsp. Baking Powder
- 1 tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. Ground Clove
- 3 tbsp. Brandy or Cognac
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 3.5 oz. Granulated Sugar
- 3.5 oz. Orange Juice
- ½ tbsp. Baking Soda
- 3.5 oz. Water
- 4.5 oz. Olive Oil
- 4.5 oz. Vegetable Oil
- 2 oz. Greek Honey
- Zest of 1 Orange
- 7 oz. Walnuts; toasted & chopped fine
- Powdered Cinnamon
- Powdered Clove (optional)
- To prepare the honey syrup: In a large saucepan add all of the syrup ingredients except for the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes (mixture will foam so pay close attention). Remove from heat and add in the honey. Stir to combine then set syrup aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cookie dough by adding the semolina, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to a large bowl. Stir the mixture with a whisk to evenly distribute the spices. In another large bowl, add the brandy, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Measure out the orange juice into a large measuring cup. Hold the measuring cup over the large bowl with the brandy mixture. Add the baking soda to the orange juice, causing it to foam up and possibly over the rim of the measuring cup (depends how large the measuring cup is). After the orange juice mixture has finished foaming pour it into the bowl with the brandy mixture and whisk vigorously for 10 t0 20 seconds (if the orange juice mixture overflows the measuring cup while it is reacting, begin whisking the second it overflows into the bowl and continue to whisk until you pour all of the orange juice mixture into the bowl of the brandy mixture). Add the water, oils, honey, and orange zest and whisk to combine.
- Add the flour mixture into the brandy/orange juice mixture. Knead the dough lightly by hand until the ingredients are just combined and the dough feels smooth and soft. Be sure you do not overwork the dough or add any extra flour because the cookies will become tough. The dough will feel oily and is normal.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. To shape the Melomakarona, pinch a piece of dough about the size of a walnut and shape into a ball. Once in a ball use your palms to shape the dough ball into an oblong egg shape. Place the shaped cookie on the prepared baking sheet. Press down lightly with the tines of a fork. Continue shaping the rest of the dough. Bake cookies until they are lightly brown and cooked through, approximately 20 minutes.
- When the Melomakarona are removed from the oven, let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 1 minute so they are easier to pick up. Working in batches, place the cookies into the cooled syrup. Flip the cookies while in the syrup with a slotted spoon for about 20 seconds (longer if you want a more syrupy cookie). Remove the soaked cookies with the slotted spoon and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle them immediately with the chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and clove (if using).
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015
Happy Friday everyone. I don’t know about you but I am ever so glad to see this week come to a close. It was a rough one let me tell you. This past week at Le Cordon Bleu the plating was focused on custards. We could choose any custard we wanted. Examples include Panna Cotta, Creme Caramel/Flan, Bread Pudding, or the famous Creme Brulee. I opted for the Creme Brulee as it has never been my friend when making it in the past and I seeked out to perfect it before graduating in four weeks. So without further ado let us start breaking down this plate…shall we 🙂
As instructed by my chef, I made sure not to use any traditional flavors of Creme Brulee…or even textures. I started out my adventure by toasting some Almonds in some butter with Ginger. Once toasted, I added Honey and quickly worked to place the Almonds in the bottom of my gratin dish. Once cooled, the Almonds melded into a crisp candied bottom layer.
For the traditional Creme Brulee custard filling, I began by heating my dairy with a bit of Saffron. The Saffron was my supporting actor to the main star of the custard…the sweet Blood Oranges. To compliment the Blood Oranges I added a dash of Honey, which draws hints back to that bottom layer of Honey encrusted Almonds I mentioned earlier. This all leads to the final component which is, of course, the notorious crunchy top layer. No matter how amazing the creamy citrus custard was underneath, I received most satisfaction from torching the sugar. Nothing is better than playing with fire in the morning to ease your culinary frustrations. Regardless of my bad relationship with Creme Brulee in the past this one turned out quite delightful. I finally think Creme Brulee and I can maintain a lifelong friendship. The finished custard is certainly a perfect representation of how to use Central Florida and it’s Citrus!
To add height to the sweet and crispy custard, I created a heart-shaped Tuille flavored with Myer Lemon juice and Poppyseeds. The Tuille’s heart shape was created by drawing a heart on a hard piece of cardboard or thick paper and creating a stencil. I then made a small batch of Tuille batter (a little goes a long way…tuilles are very thin and require very little batter to fill the stencil). I laid the stencil down on a parchment lined baking sheet and using my offset spatula, spread an extremely thin layer of Tuille batter (also known as Stencil Paste). My Tuille Heart is then held upright on the Creme Brulee by two pieces of Spun Caramel, which I fused together to created a pedestal base.
To minimize waste and utilize my hard work of battling boiling hot sugar (290° to be exact), I incorporated the Spun Sugar into a decorative adornment for the plate. I started by ladling a small amount of Strawberry Rhubarb Rum Coulis into a circle. I arranged four blackberries on top, two on each side to hold the Spun Sugar piece. To draw the eye to the decorative adornment, I placed three dots of Chocolate Sauce flavored with Tangelo and Orange Blossom leading toward the decor and also framing the front of the gratin dish of Creme Brulee.
Even with all the stress of the day I am pleased with the outcome. I am so ready for the weekend. I must plan for next week’s plated dessert following dietary guidelines. Since I am lactose intolerant I will most likely utilize that special dietary concern but am unsure what to choose as the other. Much research is in store along with costing sheets and possible baking sunday at home. If I am not able to bake sunday then I will see you all back here next friday for another installment in Dessert Plating.
All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011