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Cardamon Apricot Cookies

Recently I've been a little obsessed with the show Unique Sweets. They essentially travel around the US and find the best sweets that fit a particular subject. The best part is that the shops and sweets that are featured really are quite unique and amazing. While watching the show one day I found myself inspired by a donut shop in San Francisco. The donuts sold at Dynamo don't seem like your normal run of the mill donuts, they sell bizarre flavors like Chocolate Rose Geranium Hazelnut and Bacon Maple Apple. There was one donut in particular though that made me want to run to the kitchen, or run to the shop in SF: the apricot cardamom. I am aware that not everyone is a huge cardamom fan but I love the stuff and loved the thought of making a spicy cookie with a sweet jam glaze. Hence was born my Cardamom Ginger Cookie with Sugar Brandy Apricot Glaze.

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Homemade Tagalongs

It's the time of year when girl scouts or parents of girl scouts are out with their cookie order forms pushing their delicious, addictive treats. I love but hate that they only come around once a year. Knowing that the cookies wouldn't be around for long I started wondering how hard would it be to make my own. Could I recreate one of my favorite girl scout cookies? So began my baking adventure of trying to recreate the Tagalong.

Of course as soon as I had the idea of making my own Tagalongs I turned to the internet to do some research. I landed on a site that I frequent for it's great food pictures and even though I'd never tried one of their recipes I decided to give it a go. The results were a little sad. I followed the recipe to the end without questioning it and found it lacking in the following ways. There was less peanut butter filling than was necessary, the shortbread cookie recipe used wasn't quite sturdy enough and so when dipped in chocolate it became a little chewy instead of having that nice bite and the instructions for the chocolate coating should have called for more liquid to thin it down more as it was hard to get a light coating of chocolate. Finally, it called for dark chocolate which I thought might be a nice spin on the childhood favorite and would make the cookie a little more adult but I found that it just overwhelmed all the other ingredients. Everything combined the result left you only tasting dark chocolate. Which is delicious but not a Tagalong.

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Baking Resolution: German Christmas Cookies

This week I decided on German Christmas cookies after discovering an intriguing recipe for a flourless almond cookie with a meringue topping. I couldn't recall ever having had a cookie quite like this and so decided to give it a go. So, this week I bring you: Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars) and Lebkuchen.

Zimtsterne is the flourless cookie I was referring to above. It's basically ground almonds, cinnamon and powdered sugar held together by egg whites. The baking is bit time consuming as the heat needs to be low for the meringue to cook just right and they were a little tricky to cut since the almond chunks blocked my cookie cutter. That said, it could have just been me having bought whole almonds instead of slivered and so my dough might have been a little chunkier. After resorting to the cap from a spice jar to cut the cookies instead of my cute star I was golden. I wouldn't say these are one of my favorites but they are quite interesting and something I'm actually really glad I experienced. They are texturally quite amazing with the crunchy almond bottom and the the airy light crunch that the meringue gives. This cookie made me think about all the amazing parts of different cookies I can combine together to make something unique and hopefully delicious. So, good cookie to try but make another as a companion, I would say anything chewy and chocolate but then I'm completely addicted to chocolate so of course I would say that.

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Baking Resolution: Ginger Cookies and the Great Lemon Cookie Off

If you know me at all, you know that I have a horrible addiction, an addiction to baking. I usually have it pretty well under control and only give in when there is a special occasion like a birthday or a house warming and then I'll produce a cake or a pie. This year I've resolved to just give into the addiction. What's the worst that can happen? I only see positives: I can improve my baking skills and make my coworkers happy at the same time. My plan through the end of the year is to bake something new once a week. I'm a little behind with the blogging so this post will serve as the results of the last two weeks: brown butter ginger cookies with mascarpone cream and the great lemon cookie off.

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New Year’s Resolutions

It's that time again, the time to make and then try to stick to new years resolutions. I'm not great at New Year's resolutions. I usually make small ones that I don't really care about and then forget about them. I've decided that this year will be different, and I'm really aiming for a year of good professional improvement. Of course there are small non-professional goals I'm setting for myself like trying to floss everyday and I'm going to try, I really am but if those fall by the wayside I might just be ok with it. So here is the rundown of things I will accomplish this year (I'm trying to think positively): start speaking at conferences again, create an illustration once every other week, bake something new once a week and keep my blog up to date.

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Moving Along

As I'm writing this post I believe I have finally gotten to a point where I'm comfortable sharing my site but feel as if it is far from done. I quickly wanted to run through my thoughts about the site, and what I intent to do with it.

If you happened to see my old site hopefully you remember that the header on the home page changed based on the weather in Washington D.C. When it rained outside, it rained on my site, when it was nighttime, stars came out and started to sparkle. I loved this aspect of my old site and still hope to do the same with my current one but this time with jquery instead of flash. One new addition is that as the weather changes the illustration of myself will change along with it based on how I feel about the weather. I've taken a number of photos to use as references and need to start sketching.

photos of me in different states
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New Beginnings

Welcome to the new alifelski.com. For those of you who are new to the site this is what it used to look like. I was lucky enough to even win the best personal portfolio with it at SXSW in 2009. Then last winter I got sick. Nothing too concerning but distracting enough that my domain expired and my site went down. By the time I got around to thinking about it the site had been deleted forever. Finally wiping away the tears I am hopefully moving on to bigger and better things. So follow along as I learn and rebuild.

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