Friday, August 29, 2008

blog hopper

Had some quality one-on-one computer/internet browsing time... and much of that was blog hopping (ok, all of it). I've collected some new recipes! Yay! So I'm probably going to be baking up at least 2 loaves of banana bread, some new cookies, and even a cake!

I think I'm going to start buying butter and eggs in bulk. I mean, seriously! A box of butter has ONLY 4 sticks... that'll last MAYBE 2 recipes. and EGGS! THE EGGS!! I like to bake just as much as I like an egg sammie, or a poached egg, or an egg over-easy, or an omelette (OMG I STILL HAVE TO MAKE "EGGIE IN A BASKET" - note to self- before bread molds, again)... so my own personal egg consumption really digs into the dozen count egg carton. And I have to restrain myself from eating eggs lest the Citrus Yogurt Muffin fiasco re-occur. (But I think buying a whole STACK of eggs from Costco might be overkill... even for me).

Not to mention the LAZY. On "Baking Day Mondays", I spend half the afternoon shopping for ingredients. Granted I have the staples (AP flour, sugar, eggs (hopefully), butter (usually))... but I'm not a milk drinker, nor do I keep whipping cream in the fridge, or even honey! So I am guaranteed an outing to the market for that one ingredient or two... not to mention, restocking the staples since something or other is ALWAYS running out. (Note to self- parchment paper)

So, hopefully, this weekend I will be proactive and shop on Sunday (or maybe even SATURDAY, WHOA OMG)... and bake ALLLLLL day on Monday.

How long does it take for bananas to ripen? I should get those asap and force them to get old and mushy for my banana breads.

So! Everyone...

Let's look forward to these goodies in the next few weeks or month (or year):

Banana Bread w/ Chocolate and Cinnamon Sugar from Orangette
Banana Bread w/ Cinnamon Crumble Topping from Orangette
UBC Cake (Ultimate Banana & Chocolate Cake) aka Willie Nelson's Famous Banana Bread from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookie from Smitten Kitchen
Chocolate Mint Cookies from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
French-Style Yogurt Cake from Orangette

bucket o' edamame

one of the easiest and healthiest and nummiest snacks I could ever make...


Thursday, August 28, 2008

the F.V.

I've been seeing/hearing about some new stores (new to me anyways) and I must say my curiosity is piqued.

The truck drove in front of my on my way to work...
the logo for sure caught my eye. So I look it up, and its another nice little market... I guess reminiscent of Trader Joe's, minus the quirky. I do like the style of it, really crisp/clean/simple... which is really an ode to its name- fresh and easy. DUH.
The closest one to me is in Fountain Valley. FABULOUS.

Heard about this from KIIS on the way to work. I am definitely interested in checking out this 'up-scale' convenience store, or rather the "premium convenience store". I'm more interested in going here than Fresh&Easy. The nearest one again is in Fountain Valley.

What is in FV that draws these business models? I mean... really?

I'll be sure to explore (eventually), and I'm sure I'll see why.

for the pups

It was a special pup-pup's birfday... so I decided to whip together a doggie cake!

Uses all "human" ingredients... although, I would definitely refrain my dog (or anyone's dog) from eating more than a bite of this.

It baked up with so much oil... it stank up my apartment. AND the stupid springform pan LEAKED oil/grease/butter in the oven (DANGEROUS!), and I have yet to clean that. Seriously, I'm not a fan of the springform pan. Maybe for cheesecakes, but even then you have to wrap the bottom in foil to prevent moisture from getting in from the water bath, etc etc blah blah. But I digress...

Bow Wow Beef and Bacon Birthday Cake
from LoveToKnow Dogs (just from internet searching)
I halved the recipe, since a 8"x8" cake would be pretty large for a small doggie.

My adaptation:
1 C AP Flour
3/4Tsp Baking Powder
1/3C butter, softened
1/2 jar Beef and Vegetable baby food
1-1/2 large eggs
1/4C Bacon Bits

Yields a small springform round and a small ramekin.
Bake at 350degrees for 40 min.

Sift flour and baking powder together.
Cream together butter, oil, baby food and eggs.
Mix dry ingredients with the wet. Then stir in bacon bits.
Pour into prepared pan.

Notes: I simply sprayed cooking spray to grease the baking dishes. Although, given the amount of oil, I don't think that's necessary at all.
I wasn't sure if, and how much, these would rise. But they do, slightly.
Its a pretty crumbly cake, but if you are able to keep the outer "crust" intact, frosting is a breeze. But let the frosting soften for easier spreading (duh).

For the frosting I used cream cheese, very light layer. And for the "flower" decor, I mixed some peanut butter (Since we all know that pups love the PB) with cream cheese to add some color, and "piped" it on (I should work on that). Then, to top it off... a doggie stick treat! And...
it kinda goes downhill from there.

It's a dense cake, so shoving a stick down the center really isn't the brightest idea ever. But oh well. At least the "front" is presentable.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies - FAIL

from Real Simple July 2007

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
8oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 large eggs
3c. granulated sugar
2tsp. vanilla extract
1.5C AP flour
1/2tsp. kosher salt
8 large peanut butter cups cut into pieces (OR, mini peanut butter cups, like I used)

400degrees for 35min (until knife comes out clean) ***NONONO! 400degrees cooked the outside WAY too fast***


Melt butter and chocolate over low heat.
Using mixer, beat eggs and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy.
Lower speed and pour in melted chocolate and vanilla.
Mix in flour and salt.

Fold in peanut butter cups.*

Scrape into buttered pan.**

*I used Trader Joe Mini Peanut Butter Cups instead of cut up pieces of regular peanut butter cups. I pretty much just dumped in most of the 12oz. container.
**Everyone knows the "trick" for buttering pans right? Use the butter wrappers from the sticks of butter!

This was my first from scratch brownie. So, I was worried that it wouldn't get that crust on top. The batter also seemed to be a lighter brown than brownie mixes come out to be. But that seemed to work out ok.

It was the temperature issue that really messed up this recipe. I thought 400degrees was pretty irregular for a brownie mix, but me and my penchant for following directions to a T had to go forward with it. I did the "knife" test, and it came out clean. Too bad that the inside was still wet. I put it back in to cook more at 325 for about 20 min... it seemed to cook a little more. But when I went to scoop a chunk from the center, it was just as raw. So, I scrapped the whole thing. VERY ANNOYED.

'til next time...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Citrus Yogurt Muffins

This cute little book features all kinds of cupcake recipes, and VARIATIONS on those recipes! I only wish there were more pictures (like for EVERY SINGLE CUPCAKE FLAVOR) but that would be a little excessive (maybe?).

Last night I attempted to bake Citrus Yogurt Muffins.
It wasn't until too late that I realized I had no eggs (none, not one) in the fridge. SO unfortunately, and definitely (according to my chef at work), this recipe REQUIRES that egg. OOPS.

Citrus Yogurt Muffins
from the "Low-Fat Cupcake" chapter

2C AP flour
3/4C granulated sugar
1 tbsp grated orange zest (approx. all of a regular sized orange)
1 tbsp grated lemon zest (approx. all of a regular to large sized lemon)
1 tbsp grated lime zest (approx. 2 decent sized limes)
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1C fat-free plain yogurt
1/2C sunflower oil (I used vegetable oil, I wonder if that made a difference too.)
1 lightly beaten egg

Combine dry ingredients and zest.
Mix together yogurt, oil and egg.
Stir in flour mixture until combined- do not overmix.
Spoon into prepared muffin pan (yields 12).

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool 5 min. Serve warm. (They DID taste ok still warm; I didn't bother tasting them the next morning though.)

Maybe I'll try these again, WITH the egg. Maybe I won't. I end up wasting the naked fruits anyways. So sad.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Domo cake!

With only a few mishaps, a lot of kitchen mess, and 3 minorly burned fingers... I give you:

THE Domo cake

the process:

2 sheet cakes (9x13)
2 loaf cakes
Vanilla Cream Custard
Chocolate Frosting
Cocoa Powder (for the "fuzzy" texture)
Rice Crispy Treats (fresh made for shaping arms)
Fruit Roll-up (Strawberry)
White Chocolate (melted and cut for teeth)
Whoppers (for the eyes)

Notes: Did not come out as good as I wanted. Time was an issue, since I was constantly rushed to a) meet people for dinner and b) meet people for lunch. And quality of detail went into decline once the fingers got burned. So, that disgusting white goop on his bottom teeth was a consequence of that injury. Otherwise, its all about the proportion of the body and appendages, as well as attention to details of the mouth. Easy to make if you take the time to carefully shape the body and make the details nice. After all, he's a RECTANGLE shaped character. What would be easier!

Friday, August 15, 2008

'tis a shame...

With only 1 day off this week, and which is already dedicated to social activities... I won't get the chance (or maybe I will!) to bake! And I just got the inspiration... which reminded me of a picture posted on Cupcakes Take the Cake blog:

Monday, August 11, 2008

day o' baking

It's amazing how much you can get done if you wake up before noon...
after a quick trip to the grocery store, I spent the day baking up a storm!

From an old little baking book I bought for $3.00 from Michaels years ago:
Cookshelf Baking by Emma Patmore

From the Pies & Pastry chapter - Mini Frangipane Tarts with Lime
1C All-purpose Flour
1/3C Butter, softened
1 tsp. lime zest
1 tbsp. lime juice
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4C ground almonds
For Glaze:
1/3C confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2tsp water

Reserve 5 tsp. of flour and 1 tbsp. of butter.

Rub rest of the butter into the rest of the flour, until it looks crumbly. Stir in the lime zest, and lime juice, to form a soft dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough thinly. (My dough was pretty dry... so I added more lime juice as needed when rolling out the dough.) Cut out 3 inch rounds and place into muffin pan. (12 cup pan) This took a while since the dough was so dry and crumbly and would crack when rolling it out.

In a separate bowl, cream together reserved butter and the granulated sugar. Add in the egg, ground almonds, and reserved flour. ( I ground whole almonds for this. Not sure if it makes a difference.) Spoon about 1 Tbsp. of mixture into the "tart shells". (Divide evenly.)

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, until set and lightly golden. Remove from pan and let cool.

Mix the confectioner's sugar and water to make a glaze. Drizzle over the tartlets.

Notes: I was actually pretty surprised at the taste of these little tarts, especially since I was so frustrated with rolling out the dough! The crust came out to be really light and flakey, and the lime isn't overtly noticeable. Also, thickness of the crust affects how pretty the tart looks. So, next time, I'll be more careful to roll out the dough thinly for all tarts. And although there wasn't much of an almond flavor to the filling, it was still pretty tasty. I didn't do a great job with the sugar drizzle, so I probably should have just not done that. I'd say it's optional anyways.

From the Cookies chapter- Millionaire's Shortbread
1.5C All-Purpose Flour
1/2C butter, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp light brown sugar

4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp light brown sugar
14 oz can condensed milk
5.5 oz milk chocolate

Sift flour into bowl and rub in butter with fingers until mixture is crumbly, like fine breadcrumbs (the book reads.) Add the sugar and mix to form a firm dough. (It was a pretty crumbly dough for me.)

Press dough into a greased 9in square pan (I used round) and prick with a fork. (Since I pressed the dough into the pan, I don't think it mattered much if the dough was crumbly... unlike the preceding recipe.)

Bake in a preheated oven of 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes until lightly golden. Cool completely in pan.

Meanwhile, for the topping, melt the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a non-stick saucepan. Stir constantly until boiling. Then turn the heat down and continue to stir until the caramel turns pale golden and thickens. (This took a while, so I'm not sure if I let it thicken long enough before I got tired of stirring and stopped altogether.) Pour mixture over the shortbread base and let cool.

When the caramel is firm, melt the chocolate and spread over the top. Set aside to cool and firm up. Cut and serve.

Notes: I'm not a fan of the sticky caramely nougat-y type stuff. But I do like the shortbread. It's crisp and buttery. Yum. It does help to contrast the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate though. So it's a pretty good combination. Making shortbread is pretty easy... I think I'll be making more in the future.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cookie experimentation

So, after reading that article about chocolate chip cookies from the New York Times as I mentioned in a previous post weeks ago, I finally got time to do it!

I forget how the scientific method goes but...

Cookie dough that has longer resting time will taste better.

Experiment aka the recipe (as adapted from Orangette's blog and the NY Times):
3-2/3 C minus 2 Tbsp. All-purpose Flour
1.25 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp kosher salt
2.5 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
1.25 c light brown sugar
1c plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1x11.5oz bag Ghiradelli 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
Sea Salt (which I only used on 1 batch)

Combine all dry ingredients (except chocolate chips).
With electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing one at a time, making sure each egg is mixed in well before the next addition. Mix in vanilla.
With mixer on low, add in dry ingredients.
Add in the chocolate chips and mix to incorporate.
Using an ice cream/cookie scoop place dough onto lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt. (First I used sea salt, but didn't like the small crystals I had, so I switched to kosher instead- good move actually.)

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Let pan cool on cooling rack, then let cookies cool on cookie rack.

BATCH 1: 30 minute rest time, sprinkled with sea salt.

BATCH 2: 6 hour rest time, sprinkled with kosher salt.

BATCH 3: 9 hour rest time, sprinkled with kosher salt.
(no pictures since it was 7 in the morning...)
BATCH 4: 30 hour rest time, sprinkled with kosher salt.

Sea salt proved to be too salty on the cookies. Good thing I switched to kosher salt, even though I was mainly going off of crystal size.
There was a noticeable difference in fluffiness and golden brown-ness of the cookies between batches 1 and 2. Any other differences with other batches was not quite so discernible.

Seems that longer rest time makes cookies a little more golden. But taste-wise, I don't think it makes much of a difference.
BUT let dough rest- for sure! At least an hour. And eat them fresh!
( I saved one cookie from each batch to "taste test" a few days later, and they were no good.)
Salt does make a difference in cookie taste. The contrast between salty and sweet is good, in my opinion, for chocolate chip cookies. Just a pinch will do ya though!

Let cookie dough rest tightly covered in the fridge. Press plastic wrap directly over it.
Sea salt is saltier than kosher... I've been told in comparing batch 1 cookies with the rest.
The recipe yielded about 39 medium sized cookies... good thing I have roommates and co-workers I can share with!