Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Yeast Risen Sticky Buns

Here is another recipe of of this year's BH&G Holiday Baking and my second foray into yeasty bread products! I put these together the night before Favorites birthday so that I could get up early and stick them in the oven. They were time consuming but relatively simple to make and boy were they tasty! I wanted to give them room to grow as they cooked so I made them on a jellyroll pan. I think next time I might try cooking them in giant muffin tins because it seems like I lost a lot of filling to the pan. The only other thing I would pay attention to next time is that I think I may have kneaded too much or not allowed the dough enough time to rise either the first time, or before I baked them because even though they were scrumptious, the dough seemed a little tough.

Our Best Ever Cinnamon Rolls

4 1/2 to 5 c. all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 c. milk
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. golden raisins (optional)
1/2 c. chopped pecans

  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups of the flour with the yeast. In a small saucepan combine milk, 1/3 c. butter, granulated sugar, and salt. Cook and stir until just warm (120 to 130 degrees) and butter is nearly melted. Add to flour mixture. Add eggs.
  2. Beat with electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon stir in as much remaining flour as you can.
  3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours).
  4. Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for ten minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a 13X9X2 inch baking pan; set aside.
  5. For filling: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, 1/4 c. flour, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender cut in 1/2 c. of butter until crumbly.
  6. Roll dough into an 18x12 inch rectangle. Sprinkle filling over dough. leaving 1 inch unfilled along a long side. Sprinkle with raisins and pecans. Starting from the filled long side, roll up rectangle. Pinch dough to seal seam. Cut into 12 slices. Arrange in prepared baking pan.
  7. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, leaving room for rolls to rise. If baking immediately, let rolls double in size, about 45 minutes. If baking later, chill for 2 to 24 hours and then let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
  8. Break any surface bubbles on rolls with a greased toothpick. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes pr until golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Drizzle with powdered sugar icing if desired. Serve warm.

Nutmeg Softies

November is over and December is here! Yes, I know I'm a little late. Everything has been done a little late recently, like this blog post. I made these little cookies the weekend before Thanksgiving. Between work and holidays and Nanowrimo (which Favorite and I both finished BTW, though I will deny it if you ask to see my manuscript) I didn't have time to post, but I still made time for baking. These little guys were a heap of trouble, though, and a testament to why I never make cookies that don't come with a picture. These Nutmeg Softies came out of my BH&G Ultimate Cookie Book. The first thing that went wrong is that I did not preread the instructions, and there were no pictures so when I put together the dough and realized there was no brown sugar, no molasses, no ANYTHING brown and sweet and wonderful, I knew they were not going to be what I wanted. I thought a nutmeg softie would be like a cross between gingerbread and a sugar cookie but with the only spice being nutmeg, boy was I wrong. Next I realized too late that I added 1/2 tbs of baking soda instead of 1 tsp. This was because I was baking at my mom's house. I simply grabbed the spoon that was second biggest and used it. Who owns 1/2 tbs spoons?? I decided to keep going. Then the recipe wanted me to roll and cut the dough like sugar cookies. For whatever reason this dough did NOT come out shape and bake. It was too sticky to do anything but drop cookies. So I altered the instructions a bit and decided to do drop cookies rolled in cinnamon and sugar and squashed a little with the bottom of a glass. I also added way more nutmeg then called for, a whole freshly grated pod, or seed, or whatever nutmeg is, and still found the nutmeg flavor subtle. They got good reviews, (especially since they were so delicate from all that exta baking soda!) but a nutmegy Snickerdoodle was simply not what I had in mind...

Nutmeg Softies

1/2 c. butter, softened,
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. dairy sour cream
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
4 c. all purpose flour

  1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter and shortening for 30 seconds on high.
  2. Add granulated sugar, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined scraping sides of bowl.
  3. Beat in sour cream, egg, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer and stir in any flour that remains. (Dough will be sticky)
  4. Divide dough into thirds. Cover and chill dough about 2 hours or until easy to handle.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On lightly floured surface roll out 1/3 of dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out dough with desired shapes.
  6. Place cutouts on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake about 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are firm and bottoms are golden.
  7. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Almond Cinnamon Cookies with Browned Butter Drizzle

In case there is anyone I haven't complained to yet, Favorite has dragged me kicking and screaming into Nanowrimo this year. If you an unfamiliar Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is basically some cockamamie idea some guy came up with where you force yourself to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I have never written any substantial piece of fiction and the last time I wrote ANY fiction was probably 5th grade. Needless to say, after two weeks of writing, and 25, 000 words under my belt, I am in pain. For those math whizzes out there, 50K in 30 days means 1667 words a day. So after working, Favorite and I sit down every night and bang away at our keyboards until we fall over. Well the other night I couldn't take it any longer. I decided to take a night off and make up for it later. So when Favorite got home and mentioned turning on his computer I said, "Do what you want, but I need to bake cookies." He did question my usage of the word "need", but I assured him it was correct. I decided to make another recipe out of my Holiday Baking magazine.

Almond Cinnamon Cookies with Browned Butter Drizzle

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup blanched almonds, ground
2 c. all purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter on medium high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and cinnamon. Beat until combined scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in ground almonds. Beat in flour.
  3. Shape dough into 1 inch balls or use a 1 inch cookie scoop. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake cookies for 13 minutes or until light brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool.
  5. Drizzle cookies with browned butter drizzle.
Browned Butter Drizzle

In a small saucepan heat 2 tbsp of butter until it is golden in color and nutty smelly. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and enough milk to make of drizzling consistency.

Note: I didn't actually make new Browned Butter Drizzle. I had left over frosting from my Pumpkin Bars and I simply added milk until it was drizzly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sour Cream Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Another recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cookbook! Another delicious treat! I normally don't go for for frosted things as often both Favorite and I find that frosting, overly sugared and of dubious textures, can ruin an otherwise delicious dessert. However, something assured me that I would want to make this recipe in its entirety (ok, it wasn't something, it was my mom).
Sour Cream Pumpkin Bars

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 sour cream
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 15x10x1 inch pan (I used two 8X8s)
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat in eggs, pumpkin, sour cream, milk, and vanilla until combined. Add flours and beat until combined. Stir in nuts.
  4. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.
  5. Prepare browned butter frosting and spread over cooled bars. Cut into bars. If desired top with nut halves.
Browned Butter Frosting

1/2 c. butter
3 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook for 5 or 6 minutes or until butter becomes brown and fragrant.
  2. Remove butter from heat and cool slightly.
  3. Put butter and remaining ingredients in medium mixing bowl. Beat until combined. Beat in additional milk 1 tsp at a time, to make frosting spreadable.

These bars were less dense than I expected them to be. I was thinking they would be almost like a blondie brownie but they were almost cake-like. Either way, the toasty flavor of the browned butter frosting was delicious with the sweet pumpkiny bar. I would have been remiss to try these without their topper!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gingersnap Shortbread Cookies

If you've already read my Pumpkin Kuchen post you should know that I have in my possession a copy of this year's Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Baking magazine and that I want to make pretty much everything in it. That's where the kuchen came from and it's where this recipe came from as well. Gingersnap Shortbread. Just the name brings up all kinds of warm fuzzies. It just sounds like the holidays.

This recipe was really pretty basic, simply a shortbread cookie spiced with the same stuff that goes in gingerbread. The one thing I did not expect though was the molasses. I've never put anything wet into my shortbread and even though the amount was small I was a little worried. Well I should not have been because the cookies were delightful! Crisp and spicy with thick sweet molasses flavor. The recipe below is the one I used (straight from the magazine, I halved mine though) but if I were to make them again I am sure I would use a heavier hand with the spices and maybe even add some nutmeg. I love the whole dessert spice family and I've never encountered "too much".

Gingersnap Shortbread

2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 c. butter (two sticks)
2 tbs molasses
granulated sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Combine flour, powdered sugar, and spices in a large bowl.
  3. Cut butter and molasses into dry mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Knead until mixture forms a ball and divide in half.
  4. Pat each ball into an 8" circle on ungreased cookie sheets. Form decorative edge with your fingers and dust with granulated sugar if desired.
  5. Prick cookies every inch or so with the tines of a fork and slice into eight wedges, without separating them.
  6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until bottoms just start to turn golden brown and centers are set. Recut wedges while warm.
  7. Transfer wedges to a rack to cool.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tote Bag Triumph!

Being in Townsend has its advantages. Fewer streetlights and neon signs, lots of grass and trees, and another one: being close to my parents.

Having lived far enough away to deter me from making regular trips meant for me a twinge of jealousy whenever I heard my sister and my mom were casually going to grab a cup of coffee or go Christmas shopping together. When I learned they were taking a cake decorating class together I felt even more left out. Well now I have my OWN version of cake decorating class! For my mom's birthday this year (although it retrospect it seems more like a gift to myself) I registered us both for a sewing class taking place at a local high school. The first week we made tiny little drawstring gift bags. The second week we made cuffed pillowcases. Since both of these projects were pretty much just squares with seams, I have decided not to post them. This week, however we were tasked with tote bags!

I went to Joann's and bought my "decorator" fabric and webbing and headed to class. It turned out to be a little more sophisticated than I had planned for. Because my fabric had a loose weave and interior threads that had a tendency to get caught on things I ended up having to line the bag as well. So, this lovely carry-all has a flat bottom, a full lining, and handles sewn into the seams to make a very nice finished product!

Because the bag is very wide, I am considering installing some snap onto pleats in the side to give the bag a more purse-like look and make it a little more manageable to carry so it will look a bit more like THIS --->

I am pretty excited about having a little bit of success at sewing as my past projects are all in shambles with loose threads everywhere, all coming apart at the seams (very literally). Hopefully this is the start of a beautiful relationship with my sewing machine. I have to say though, when you first start sewing stuff it sure is helpful to have someone around to hold fabric straight while your pinning, or to remind you not to skip locking in your stitches. And this is why my mom will now have to be present any time I try to make ANYTHING on my sewing machine. That and the fact that she always brings me chocolate Riesens which help to quell the rising anger demons when I am losing my patience.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Back with Banana Muffins and Apple-Pumpkin Kuchen!

Look at those babies! Those are banana muffins my friends! They were baked with love and swiftness last night while Favorite was bringing my computer back from the dead. Apparently I had unwittingly happened into the dreaded virut virus which is a particularly nasty one that likes to find windows exe files and eat them up until your computer can't even boot in safe mode...

So, the muffins came from the banana bread recipe in my handy Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Banana Bread

2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup mashed banana
1 c. sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil
optional nuts or crumbly topping

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease your vessel.
  3. Mix all ingredients up to nutmeg in large bowl.
  4. Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl.
  5. Stir wet into dry all at once until just moistened. Fold in any extras.
  6. Fill your baking vessel and bake until done (15 to 20 for muffins, 30 to 75 for loaf pans, depending on size)
This recipe was super easy as you only need two bowls and about 5 minutes to prep your ingredients. I only had two bananas which made a little more than 3/4 c when mashed, so I halved the recipe and cut the oil down to two tablespoons (because of the extra banana). This made 4 decent sized muffins in my "Giant" muffin pan. Question for my readers: anyone know how to get real muffin tops? I am talking about the kind of muffin that has a top that has a greater diameter than its stump. I filled each well within a half inch of the top and got NO shoulder on my muffin. Any hints would be greatly appreciated.

I also recently made(and captured) my first ever attempt at a yeast leavened pastry! The hardcore German tastiness known as kuchen (pronounce koo-ken, apparently). I bought a small sugar pumpkin with designs on making some sort of pumpkin dessert with the real thing, and not the Libby's can. This was partially just for curiosity's sake and partly because, as some of you know, there was a horrendous shortage of canned pumpkin earlier this year. I didn't want to do something traditional where you end up boiling and mashing the pumpkin because I had a beautiful SOLID pumpkin and I wanted to take advantage of that fact. I finally had the idea to make an apple-pumpkin crisp with equal portions tasty apples and soft sweet cubes of pumpkin all dripping with sweet cinnamon goodness and topped with enough brown sugar to make Favorite proud (that is a LOT let me tell you...) Well I scrapped the idea of the crisp when I saw the Apple Kuchen in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine "Holiday Baking". I will literally be baking my way through this entire magazine! There has never been a periodic publication with so many deliciously sweet recipes to try! Anyhow, I took the Apple Kuchen and added my Pumpkin Twist.

Apple (Pumpkin) Kuchen

2 1/4 c. flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 c. apples (about 4 apples, or 2 apples and half a small pumpkin, par boiled)
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp quick cooking tapioca, crushed (I substituted with mochi rice flour because I had it)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple pie spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
Crumb Topping

  1. Grease 13X9X2 pan.
  2. Mix 1 c. of flour and package of yeast.
  3. Heat milk, sugar, butter, and salt until butter is almost melted.
  4. Add milk mixture, along with eggs, to flour and yeast. Beat on low 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl, and high for 2 minutes or until smooth. Beat in remaining flour.
  5. Spread mixture in prepared pan.
  6. Mix apples (and pumpkin), brown sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, and spices together in large bowl. Spread mixture over batter in pan.
  7. Sprinkle with crumb topping (1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 3 tbsp butter, cut in to pea sized crumbs) and allow to sit in a warm place for an hour.
  8. After dough has risen, bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until top is browned and apples are tender.
I used raw apples in this recipe, but I par boiled the pumpkin because I figured it wouldn't cook as fast and I didn't want raw pumpkin. It worked well as the pumpkin got soft enough without being overly mushy. The recipe in the magazine also suggests topping with a cream cheese frosting, but I decided to nix it as I had no cream cheese and don't care much for frosting anyhow. The kuchen is definitely tasty. The base is more substantial than I thought it would be. I was expecting something like a coffee cake,but it was definitely more bread or biscuit like (though admittedly I DID overcook it a tad). If I were to make this recipe again with the pumpkin, however, I would have more pumpkin and less apple as the empire apples I used overwhelmed the more subtle flavor of the pumpkin. More pumpkin, more spice, and vanilla ice cream on top!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another New Kitchen!!

Ok! It is officially official. Favorite and I have successfully bought our first (and if you ask him, LAST) house!!

You may have notice a distinct lack of blogging and yummy things lately and I have no excuse, but I do have reasons. We have been very busy moving into our new home. A lot of you know this already and some of you have probably helped us, THANK YOU! It is a very strange living situation as I am still spending the weekdays at the apartment so that I may commute to work. I cannot bake there anymore as all of my equipment is in the new house already (which is about 1.5 hours away from the apartment). I also have been unable to bake at the house until this past weekend when I finally moved all of my ingredients there. Things have been hectic and probably will be for a while. I am hoping to start back with the baking sometime in October (PUMPKIN SEASON IS HERE!!!) but there are a few things that need to happen before then. I would LIKE to get a decent camera so that I can photograph my subjects without taking a hundred snaps just to get one decent one. I also would like to get internet at the house because if I don't upload right away I procrastinate like crazy. I look over my blog sometimes and wonder to myself where all my other recipes have gone and then realize I never took pictures of them or never remembered how I baked them so they didn't make it onto the site. Man, I stink.

So! If you are a fan of this blog (re. if you are Favorite) you can look forward to a future full of better pictures of beautiful baked goods made in a lovely new kitchen. I just am not sure how fast that will happen. Also, Oktoberfest is coming up and I will have to get pictures of that for sure!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Peach Blueberry Pie

I have made the Peach Blueberry Pie again! During my internet hiatus I made the momentus decision to add a couple cups of blueberries to a fresh peach pie and it rocked my world. Sadly I completely missed the photo opportunity. Well, I made it again and got a few snaps this time. They are not great, it turns out I am TERRIBLE at photographing pies. The whole pie is just too much to get in one shot well and it is quite difficult to get one perfect slice out of a fruit pie. For better or worse, here it is.
It really is a simple and delicious pie. Just 4 cups of sliced ripe peaches, 2 cups of blueberries, 1/2 - 2/3 a cup of sugar (depending on how sweet your fruit is) and 2 tbsp cornstarch stirred together and dumped in your favorite pie crust. You can add lemon zest or spices to the mixture, but with delicious fresh ripe fruit, I think it is best just to taste the fruit. I moosh my blueberries a little, by the way, so that they make more blueberry juice. I just like it that way. I also took my leftover pie crust bits and rolled them out, cut them in half, and bated one side with butter, topping it with cinnamon, brown sugar, and chopped pecans, and covered it with the other half. I baked this in with the pie on my pie-overflow baking sheet (which is a technique I have used ever since my first strawberry rhubarb pie set the oven on fire!) until it was browned. Tasty little snack! Favorite thought it tasted just like a brown sugar cinnamon pop tart, which I suppose is pretty much what it was.

In other non-food news, check out THIS guy!
I found this sucker hanging out on a window screen outside my apartment building. He looks just like a strangely symmetrical rumpled up dead leaf from far away, but when he is completely out of his camouflaging element he was pretty easy to spot. Click on the image to enlarge it and you can see how fuzzy he is, very cool dude.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chocolate Oatmeal Barley Cookies

Yes, barley. What a magnificent idea! Favorite and I were planning on tasting a very delicious sounding beer which seemed to need an equally delicious chocolate cookie to have with it. I of course turned to my trusty Ultimate Cookie Book, and found a recipe for chocolate oatmeal cookies. They looked dark, rich, and delicious, they used melted chocolate AND chocolate chips, and each was topped with a pecan halve. How could I lose? But, to make them even MORE special, Favorite had the brilliant idea of replacing some of the flour with crushed roasted barley, which he had of course in his brewing supply room. After I stopped beating myself up over why I hadn't thought of that before I got down to making the cookies. I only made a half batch since we also have cornbread, and marshmallows to eat. It was pretty much a typical chocolate cookies recipe, beat the butter and sugar, add the cooled melted chocolate, eggs, and vanilla, and then gradually add in the dry ingredients. I had taken 1/4 of a cup of roasted barely and used the grind feature on my mini prep to render it into dust with a few pieces of hull in there. I put this powder into the bottom of my measuring cup and added flour to make the amount I needed in total. I added this to the batter and then stirred in the oats (chopped a bit in the mini prep because they were old fashioned instead of quick cooking) and chocolate chips. I scooped the dough into heaps on my sheets, topped each with a pecan halve and put them in the oven. The smell was incredible.

The first batch, second batch and so on came out and all seemed to have on failing... they were all flat as pancakes!! Again I am having this problem. This time, however, I think I have REALLY found the solution. I had thought before that my dough was too warm, and tried chilling it; I thought that the butter was inferior, so I switched to brand name; I thought I was beating too much air into the mixture, so I became dainty with my beating of the butter. None of these "solutions" seemed to solve my problem, so I tried one more. I turned up the oven. My thought was, well if the oven is lower in temperature than it's saying it is, the heat would be enough to melt the dough without cooking it all the way. If I turn the heat up, the outside should cook faster giving it a better chance to set its shape.

So on my last batch I turned the oven from 375 to 385 and gave it ample time to heat up. I made sure to put the cookies on a sheet that was NOT still warm from the oven and I baked them for 9 minutes, right in the middle of the recommended 8-10. They came out... fatter!

I had used the same cookie scoop to make the cookies and you could clearly tell that the ones baked in the hotter oven were significantly smaller in diameter. They were chunkier, which meant they had more delicious interior to enjoy. I think I have finally found my cookie solution!

Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

Hello, hello! Today's edition of the Threadbare Bakery finds us in the uncertain world of CANDY MAKING.

If you follow my blog much you will know that I have tried making caramel and failed. I have tried making divinity and failed. If it involves heating sugar and water to a certain temperature, if precision is of the essence, I generally don't fare so well. Well... NOT ANYMORE. Thanks to Favorite's cousin and his lovely woman, we have acquired, as a wedding present, an infrared pyrometer! This is a fancy word for laser thermometer. It looks like a tiny version of a police speed detector and works similarly; point and shoot. However instead of reading back the speed of its target it shows you the temperature. Now it is exceedingly fun to take temperature readings of everything and everyone around you, but where it shines, as far as usefulness is concerned, is in the kitchen. Favorite has used it numerous times when making beer to ensure his mash or his wort are at the proper temperature. It takes temperature instantaneously, and accurately so when I decided to venture into candy making again, I had it ready to go.

I know it is not autumn, traditional pumpkin season, but I simply couldn't wait any longer to try the recipe I had found for Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows and here's why:Ha HA! Don't they simply look MARVELOUS? Yes, yes, they do, and they smell and taste lovely as well. I have to admit that I was certainly nervous, having the record with candy making that I do, but these were actually easy! You mix the pumpkin, cold water, and gelatin together in one bowl, then you begin heating your mixture of water, sugar, and corn syrup. Just for experiments' sake I put the standard candy thermometer I have in the sugary liquid to see how far off it was. The thermometer lagged FAR behind my laser gun, showing me a little over 225 when I finally took it off the heat with the laser telling me it was (in various spots) between 249 and 257, approximately hard ball. I then plopped the pumpkin mix gently into the syrup, hoping that the sugar wouldn't harden from the cold semi-solid, and once I had given it a few stirs to break up the chunks, poured the entire saucepan full into my kitchen aid, put my splashguard in position, and threw the switch to 11 (re. high). I wondered, had the temperature gradients in the liquid affected the sugary structure? Had I cooked it too long? Not long enough? Well my kitchen aid did its thing, for about 9 minutes and it had finally started looking lighter, fluffier, more opaque, and I was getting excited. I had premixed my spices and started sprinkling them in at the 9 minutes mark. The mix whipped for a minute more and then I removed the splashguard completely to reveal... MARSHMALLOW!!!

I poured the liquid mallow into lightly greased jelly roll pan praying I would later be able to get it out. Then it had to set for at least 4 hours with a recommended set time of overnight. I controlled myself and managed the overnight, but was thrilled when I went to clean my bowl and whisk attachment and found that the substance that had been so liquidy just moments before had already turned lightly elastic, foamy, and chewy.

Finally it came time to turn out the sweet mass. I threw together the powdered sugar and cornstarch lightly dusted the exposed surface, and flipped the pan over onto some parchment. I picked up the pan to disover the mallow had not com out, but, still overturned, I stuck a knife in the corner to begin prying the goo away and then it all seemed to com out at once. Victory! Once layed out I used a lightly oiled knife to cut the marshmallow into squares and tossed them in the cornstarch mix a few at a time giving them a light coating before storing them in some tupperware. Of course I tried one, so did Favorite, and they were delightful! They are not as chewy as store marshmallows. They are more tendy, foamy and chewy, but with a little less toothiness. And these of course were fragrant with spices and with a glorious orange color. There are only two things I would do differenly, were I to make marshmallows again (and oh, I will). One is I would try making them when the weather is a littles less humid because my cornstarch mixture seems to keep sucking up he moisure in the air causing the marshmallows to stick to each other more than is desireable. The other is that I would like to try making them in a lasagna pan so that I might get a thicker layer. I would like it very much to have the finished guys be a little more cuboid. Although, the thin sheet is probabl better for cutting more complicated shapes (I punched out a few little stars myself, hehe).

So go! Get accurate kitchen equipment and make candy! I know I will be venturing more into the candy realm know that I feel more secure in my ability to gauge sugar temperatures.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Boston Cream Trifle

My sister has already blogged on Boston Cream. It was supposedly a disaster. I didn't try it so I don't know. This spurred something in me though. Like my sister I thought "What could be so hard about cake, cream, and chocolate?" and then I too was bested.

So it started out as a cake but ended up a trifle. Why? Because the cake somehow shattered coming out of the pan. Ok, I say shattered, which sounds like it was crispy and brittle, it was not, but it did somehow still manage to fracture into a million pieces. Trifle it is!

I used a different recipe than my sister. One that used less than a million pots, pans, and bowls. The cake was a white cake. It had a rather thick crunchy shell for some reason though I know I just managed to cook the center through. The pastry cream came out rather well I think. It was smooth and thick and, well, creamy. The recipe called for what sounded like some kind o terrible chocolate frosting so I opted for a makeshift ganache. I heated up some cream, melted chocolate into it until I thought it looked chocolatey enough, then added some powdered sugar. The powdered ugar may sound strange, but I kind of like the quasi waxy texture it lends. It reminds me of the peel offable frosting on a Hostess Cupcake. Anyway, the cake was not difficult (other than getting it out), the pastry cream was not difficult, and the chocolate was not difficult. Even still, it wasn't QUITE right. I don't know what to change, but this tasty dessert remains, for now, a mystery.

As a mini side project I baked up a small batch of the Cinnamon Chocolate Meringuey Cookies that I have made here before. Turns out, you don't even really need a recipe for these. I just wanted to get rid of the egg whites I had left over from the yolks that were used in the pastry cream. So I beat up the whites, added some sugar, dumped in some chopped chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, and chopped pecans, and threw those babies in the oven.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Oatmeal Cake

I have a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that I turn to from time to time when I can't think of a dinner to make or when I need to remember something like how long I should expect my stuffed peppers to cook in the oven. Last night, though, I pulled it out for something little different: cake. To be a little more specific: Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Nut Topping. Sound good? Check out my awful pictures of its splendor.I halved the cake recipe and it turned out 5 mini Bundts. This was not a spectacular idea considering these guys have holes in the middle, but I sacrificed one of the cakes that hadn't quite come out whole so that I could patch them and top them properly. Once the cakes get topped with the brown sugar, butter, coconut, pecan mixture they get popped back in the oven under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. This caramelizes the top just a bit so that the result is something not unlike pecan rolls except that it is on a sweet fluffy cake. Very sweet and yummy for dessert. If you could get over the guilt it would also be great with your morning coffee

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pumpkin Oat Muffins and a Scarf


I have not only BAKED Pumpkin Oat Muffins, but I have also remembered to take pictures of them!
They look quite glorious really, but I found them to be pretty dense. I used a vegan recipe for these, not because I am vegan but because I was without eggs! They are pretty good hot with some butter though. Ha, I would make poor vegan.

Also! I have finished a scarf that I started so long ago I can't remember (hyperbole: I think it was sometime last year). It was going to be the first quasi plain yet nice-looking-enough-to-be-a-real-scarf scarf and it was going to be mine! That was until I ran out of the yarn I was using...

So I had to make one half the opposite mirror image of the other half. Oh well... Favorite insists I keep it as it came out nice enough, but I am thinking the Salvation Army might need to keep some people warm.

The pattern is quite easy and the density of it is very nice; springy and elastic with some dimension without taking too much time or too much yarn. My friend Cheryl shared this pattern with me:

R1: K4, *P3, K3, repeat from *, end with K4
R2: P2, *K1, P1, repeat from *, end with P2

Easy peazy lemon squeezy! Now I'm working on some shrug-like thing. We will see how this turns out. Hopefully I have enough yarn this time. Probably not.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oh My Internet

I have not been on hiatus!

I have, in fact, been baking and baking. The problem lies in the fact that I have not had the internet. Well here ends that period of my life.

What you all have missed as a result of my lack of internet:

Blueberry Crumb Pie
Peach Blueberry Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Almond Sugar Cookies
Homemade Granola Bars
Cheerios Breakfast Bars
Giant Oatmeal M&Ms Cookies

Sadly, not only have I not been blogging but my lack of blogability also led to a lack of motivation to photograph my creations. This is especially sad when I think of the peach blueberry pie. The lattice came out perfect, the insides were a mixture of dark blue and peachy goo, and man was it ever good (although that part is a little more difficult to appreciate from a picture). Well, this depressing dark spot in my blog history is over now and I look forward to the next post which I promise will be full of tasty nibbles and pictures to boot.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Half-A-Birthday Cake

It recently occured;

Favorite's half-a-birthday.

That glorious time where you are as far away from your birthday as you can ever be. The last one is 6 months behind, the next 6 months ahead. Favorite pointed out that this event should merit a cake. I thought so too.

So you might say to yourself "Oh Kerri! What a lovely cake you made! And after work! You are glorious!" While this may be true, it is not because of this cake. If you are also wondering why my cup, plate, and pecans look gigantic I will erase the wonder from your minds and reveal to you, it is a tiny minicake. As it was not a full birthday I did not make a full birthday cake. I actually made a quarter of a cake recipe, but let's not quibble. It was half of a single layer, how about that? Anyway, the fun thing about this cake is that I made it in the food processor in about 5 minutes. Well, that was after I toasted all the pecans (about 10 minutes). I had my doubts about this minicake... after I quartered my recipe it had only a tablespoon or so of flour, the rest of the cake being comprised of 1 egg, sugar, and pecans (and a tsp or so of baking powder). I zipped it up in the food processor until smooth and poured it into a greased and floured tiny little (4" diameter?) springform pan, topped it beautifully with whole pecans, and popped it in the oven. The tiny cake took as long as a full sized cake to cook (about 22 minutes!) but once it came out it looked lovely. Favorite ate it with happiness and relish and it was moist, and nutty.

The thing I liked best about the cake, not
having eaten most of it, was the appearance of the surface. It looked a little like it had been washed with a sugar syrup before baking due to the sheen and smoothness. Let me show you it's beauty:

I also just loved being able to pop it out of that tiny springform without having to worry about what happened to the bottom. It made it look just so neat!

Well I feel accomplished, though perhaps not deservingly. Nonetheless I shall advance to the next baked good as I have run out again. Next up:
The Obligatory Strawberry Rhubarb Pie of Spring!

Coffee Chocolate Nut Cookies

Or something...

So I've been trying to catch up on my backlog. If you read my bean past buns post you may notice it is a little anemic due to my need to catch up with myself. Maybe you like that about it since I usually waste your time with many many words and not nearly enough good pictures. As it turns out too many words and too few pictures make boring food blogs. Oh well.

Here are my cookies. These are the cookies I promised to post the other day and didn't. Favorite and I made them a million years ago (re: this past weekend) when his parents came to visit. The cookie is flavored with instant coffee. It is flavored quite strongly so that they actually taste a bit like coffee ice cream. Yum. Then it has chunks of dark chocolate. Since I couldn't find my chocolate morsels, Favorite and I cut up Hershey's special dark bars. Boy, big chunks of chocolate somehow taste way better than chips. The squareness makes it more enjoyable somehow. Lastly there are some chopped up walnuts. Pretty tasty cookies. They went fantabulously well with all of the dark, highly alcoholic beers we sampled on Saturday.

More Steamed Bean Paste Buns

Ok, so I am repeating myself a bit, but even though I've spoken about making bean paste buns before I don't think I've ever posted pictures.

I decided to make bean buns because I had a lot of bean paste left over from making the ichigo daifuku and I wanted to use some more of it before I put it in the freezer for next time.

Here they are! Oh the excitement.

Some things are much more difficult than others to get pictures of. Especially when you try to do it right out of the steamer while they are still getting your lens all fogged up.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baked French Toast

I don't usually post things I consider to be "meals" as this site is about desserts! However considering this "meal" was baked and contained copious amounts of fruit, butter, and sugar, I feel posting it is justified.

Mmmm baked french toast! Ok so it is a terrible picture. For some reason it was absurdly difficult to capture the texture of this item in the lighting the day provided me. But I digress. This sugar laden start to the morning was prepared as a send off to Favorite's parents. They had come to visit Saturday a little before noon, which started a 24 hour consumption-of-tasty-things fest. We first had turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwiches for lunch on Saturday. Then we went out for homemade ice cream that the candy house down the street makes. It was the perfect sunny, but not-too-hot day for ice cream. For dinner we had Grammy's recipe terriyaki chicken wings, baked beans (not homemade) and potato salad. Favorite then helped me make some cookies (these will be posted tomorrow!) and for dessert we had the cookies and a tasting sampler of beers including a number of Favorite's special homebrews.

After the cookies had been eaten (most of them anyway) and the beer had been drunk I prepared the french toast for the next morning. I used this recipe from Cooks.com with a couple little twists. I used a big fresh loaf of french bread that I had sliced into big fat texas-toast sized slices and had left them out for a day to dry a bit. I made the custard recipe as written and layered by bread in the pan, pouring the mix over the top. I then squished the bread down to sponge up the liquid, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for the night. In the morning I put a good amount of berries in with the bread, pushing them down into the eggy mixture. I then topped the whole mess with the crumb mixture (I used pecans instead of the nuts suggested) and popped it into the oven before beginning preheat. This was really just to make sure that my cold glass dish wouldn't shatter. I know they are not supposed to, but it made me feel better. I definitely cooked the dish longer than the allotted 40 minutes as the berries exuded a lot of juice that I wanted to reduce so it wouldn't be mushy and gross. I put some maple syrup on the table with the french toast, but I also put down some fresh whipped cream and fresh berries. I don't really think the maple syrup got touched.

Although this was the first time I had made a dish like this, and although I had read mixed reviews about baked french toast recipes being too eggy, or two soggy, or generally not good, I thought this came out great. It also got rave reviews and the lasagna pan I used to make it was nearly empty by the time the four of us were done, so I think I am satisfied. If I made it again though, I would probably cook it for longer than 40 minutes even if I did not add berries (although why wouldn't you add berries? they were fabulous!) just to ensure the thick layers of eggy bread got cooked all the way through. Even with the extra cooking time the french toast was fluffy yet moist and spongy, definitely not dried out. I definitely recommend trying this. It would also be very tasty with small chopped apples in the mix.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ichigo Daifuku (kind of)

So unbeknownst to my readership I have been experimenting behind closed doors. Not so long ago I was introduced to mochi. Actually the first type of mochi I tried was an ice cream daifuku, a little ball of ice cream covered in a skin of mochi. Mochi, in case you are unfamiliar, is glutinous rice cake made (traditionally) by pounding glutinous rice into a thick sticky dough. It can be flavored with all sorts of things, it can be baked, it can be filled. It is simply lovely. Well, it turns out one can make mochi at home easily enough by substituting the pounded glutinous rice with cooked, reconstituted glutinous rice flour. It may not have the same glorious light yet chewy and smooth texture of traditionally made mochi, but it also it tremendously less labor intesive. When I have a trio of strong men to pound my rice for me perhaps I shall try it that way.

Anyhow! I have been experimenting with making different mochi treats. I say "kind of" in the post title because I am actually cheating. I could not find glutinous rice flour so for the time being, until I can get to the closest Asian market, I am stuck with plain regular rice flour. No, it doesn't have the same texture, no it does not make treats quite as wonderful, but it seems to handle relatively the same, and if you do it right they still come out quite enjoyable.

So long story short I tried out making some ichigo daifuku which are mochi skins filled with whole fresh strawberries which have been surrounded in adzuki bean paste. I made some fresh bean paste just for the occasion and they came out pretty darn tasty. Wrapping the starberries in the bean paste and then covering them proved a bit tricky though, even with cold beans, so I also tried a couple with the strawberries hollowed out and the bean paste hidden inside.

As a side note, I have complained before about making bean paste and about how long it takes to cook the beans, well, this time I soaked them overnight and it cut my cooking time by what seemed like 90%! Splendid. Now the only time consuming, laborious part is straining out the skins :-P

<---Here is another picture of when I got tired of dealing with strawberries and made one just filled with bean paste. My skins are probably too fat, but for the time being I will blame it on not having the right ingredients.

Celebration Berry Crumb Cake


So I am finally done the horrendous nightmare that has been this past outage at work. No more nightshift. No more 12 hour days. No more eating every meal out of the microwave. I am supremely happy that I am done for another cycle. There has been a rather unfortunate development over the past month, however, which is that Favorite and I are no longer keepers of that which is called, The Internet. The Internet has been taken away from us for the time being and as such I only have access to my blog portal when I am at work. The most unfortunate part of this being that I can not take pictures and immediately upload them. Well, I have managed to get the pics to work to upload so here goes:

I have a recipe book called something like Light Desserts which has a ton of recipes made with fresh fruit. I figured, since it is berry season now, that this would be the best time to try one out. I showed Favorite a narrowed selection of berry recipes and he chose the crumb cake (I knew he would). The recipe was for blueberries, but based on Favorites preference in berries we decided to go with mostly blackberries with a few raspberries thrown in the mix.
The cake base was coffee cake like in density and sweetness and had some fresh lemon zest thrown in to brighten it up. The batter went in to a round cake pan followed by beautiful, fresh, fat blackberries and raspberries. On top of this went a cinnamony brown sugar crumb topping and into the oven it went. The cake came out brown and springy, the crumb golden and sweet, and the berries, hot and glorious (very, VERY, hot! I burnt my fingers a bit turning it out to cool). Favorite was about to dig in to his piece when I convinced him it wouldn't be right to eat it without a dollop of fresh, lightly sweetened whip cream and a couple of fresh berries. He managed to hold off woofing it down and he was glad he did. The blackberries were quite sweet with a good bit of tang that was tempered by the more overt sweetness of the raspberries and the crumb topping. It also went splendidly with a cup of vanilla camoro black tea. Overall I felt it was a good opening to the next couple of months of being able to bake in season. I hope I get to do a couple more of these recipes with super fresh tasty fruit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Woe is the Baketress!

So it has been about 4 weeks since the outage has started and I have not baked a thing in what feels like forever! I am going cuckoo working the night shift. As it turns out it is a good thing I don't live in Alaska because never seeing the sun does funny things to a person. In fact, the only things I seem to see anymore are the view outside my car window as I am driving to and from work, the inside of my cubicle walls, and the backside of my eyelids. I miss my Favorite! I miss my kitties! I miss fresh hot meals and lazy weekends! Luckily, the end is in sight. More of the outage is behind me than is ahead of me. Armed with that knowledge I think I will be able to make it through.

Sorry I have no pictures to adorn this wonderful post with, but the inside of my cube isn't that great. Plus, we're not allowed cameras onsite anyway.

Hope everyone is doing well here in the Blogosphere and beyond. Feel free to keep me abreast of current events by emailing me or commenting on my post. I don't have a lot of contact with the outside world right now and updates on the state of affairs are appreciated.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Surprise Mixed Berry Tartlet

So Saturday night (can I still say last night if it's really 4 am Monday morning already?) was my first outage night off. Jay has been super awesometastic making me lunches with huge amounts of good foods and snacks, taking care of the kitties, and taking care of the house. He has even dealt very well with my grumpiness the few times I saw him at home while coming or going from my shift. Then he stayed up until after 1 in the morning with me on my night off so he could see me longer. He is totally the best ever! So I wanted to do something nice for him. He had been talking about wanting a tasty fruit dessert in celebration of spring so I decided (at about 5 in the morning) to whip up a little fruity pie, tart, whatever you wanna call it for his breakfast.

I actually had some leftover pie crust in the fridge and some mixed berries in the freezer. I know that fresh berries would have been better in the spirit of spring, but this is what I had. So I rolled the crust and used it to line the bottom and sides of a little white creme brulee dish. I then took a good handful of my frozen berries and stuck them in a small pot to thaw. When I realized that they may overcook in spots from the lack of liquid I poured in a little pomegranate juice just to cover the bottom of the pan. I let this sit on low until the berries were heated through. I added a little bit of flour and mixed it in well to thicken up the juices of the fruit. I let this sit on the stove a little while longer just for extra insurance against the taste of uncooked flour. While this was simmering I mixed up some butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and oats. I cut the butter into the rest of the mix to make a crumby topping. I then put the berries into the pie crust, careful not to overfill it and trying to get more berries in there than juice. I crumbled the topping over the berries, place the dish on a cookie sheet and popped it in a 350 degree oven until the top and crust were brown and the fruit mix was thick and bubbly. Favorite got this served to him in bed with a nice cup of tea!

Favorite was very excited despite also being VERY zonky. He delighted me in my early morning baking by saying that his breakfast was "absolutely delicious" and "extremely satisfying". Win! That was all I needed to fall asleep happy and fulfilled (plus he shared a bite or two with me!).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Honey Cake

So I've officially started working 12 hour night shifts. I will be working nearly 80 hour weeks (all between the hours of 6pm and 8 am) for the next 30 days or so. Needless to say there will not be a whole lot of baking going on. Although I DO have Saturday nights off and since Favorite will still have to go to bed like a normal person, I may end up spending the wee hours of Sunday mornings baking snacks to take to work.

But enough about that! Recently, though I can't seem to remember when, Favorite came home and said "I need dessert!! What can we make?" I was very excited that he wanted to cook with me so I broke out a few recipe books and began making suggestions. For simplicity as well as delicious-looking-ness we chose to bake up a Honey Cake. This was an interesting recipe as it first had you melt the butter and brown sugar over low heat. To this you add the honey. We used an interesting mix of honies we had in the house. Two were very dark "Wald Honig" honeys from the forests of Germany, one was creamed honey from a local bee keeper, and one was a light colored raw honey complete with comb in the jar. Then you mix the liquid (after it has been cooled) into the dry mixture with the beaten eggs. It all came together very easily although I didn't use my Kitchenaid and considering the thickness of the batter I definitely should have.

The mix of high quality honeys made this cake very tasty and the high amount of sugar made for a fabulous little crust on the outside of the cake. It tasted great with a cup of strong black tea. Looked pretty good too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Do-Si-Dos, a Dance with Peanut Butter Cookies

Look at these fabulous peanut butter cookies!!

Did a Girl Scout show up at my door this week?

Was I keeping these in the freezer for a moment of weakness?


I made them in my very own kitchen!

Mmmmm Do-Si-Dos have always been my favorite of the GS cookie selection (I can hear all of you Somoas lovers out there in vehement disgust) and when I found a copy cat recipe for them on the internet I knew I had to try it out. I found a recipe at Baking Bites along with some other GS favorites. The recipe as written makes a crazy huge amount of cookies, so knowing my penchant for eating as many Do-Si-Dos as are set in front of me I cut the recipe down to 1/3. While some comments on the recipe site state these were too salty, too bitter from the leavening, or had filling that was too buttery, I thought they were fantastic!

There ARE a couple caveats to that glowing review however. For one thing, I used unsalted butter. I thought this was the norm in baking, but in case you want to make these with salted butter, don't. I also cooked my cookies a little longer than the recipe states to achieve the crispness I desired, otherwise the cookie ended up a little chewy, very much unlike the GS version. I also added a little more powdered sugar to the filling than is stated although this was more to get a thicker filling than to change the flavor. Since I was cutting things in thirds I wasn't quite sure my filling ingredients were measured accurately so I just added stuff til it looked right. Even though I made mine thicker I still preferred to leave the cookies in the fridge to really set up the middles so they wouldn't goosh when I bit them. Although, to be fair, this is also how I keep my GS cookies.

So! Next time you get a hankering for some cookies from those little green clad darlings and you haven't seen them canvassing the neighborhood in a while, think about producing some out of your own oven. Just make sure you have a nice cold glass of milk to wash them down!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cashew Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies befuddle me. I have made many a shortbread cookie and they almost always get good reviews, but they seem to always leave me doubting the final product. Is it too crisp? Too floury? Did I bake it too long? Is the texture right? One of the reasons I find them so confusing is that you are not supposed to achieve browning, which always leaves me worried to overbake which inevitably leads to me underbaking. Also, there are two general methods by which to make the dough and they seem in direct conflict with one another. The first method, the method I generally use, is to use really cold butter and to cut it in to your flour and sugar until it is like sand. Then you mix it with you hands just enough to get the dough to come together, careful not to manhandle it and get the butter all melty. I believe this is in an effort to produce tiny pockets of butter in the dough in order to yield a crisp light cookie. The other method is to use a mixer or food processor to blend the butter into the dry mix until it all holds together. This seems to me that it would end up overblending the mix and making a tighter, less delicate texture to the cookie. I had never actually tried this method before though so I thought it was time to give it a shot. Behold the Cashew Shortbread Cookie!
The recipe for this cookie came out of a Land O'Lakes cookie book. This is an interesting fact because the thing I liked least about these cookies was the butter and I had used store brand butter. I am seriously beginning to doubt the quality of this store brand butter as anything that relies on the butter to come out well (like my ultra greasy Bocca Di Nonna) comes out greasy and has strange results. For example, the first portion of this recipe called for me to brown the butter for the dough (and also some for a frosting that was never made). I have browned butter before, just recently as a matter of fact when I was at my mom's house making browned butter frosting with Dayna. The strange thing that happened was instead of my butter browning, little FLECKS of my butter browned and almost burnt while it left the rest of the liquid golden and clear. This was when I gave up on the browning and poured off the liquid and threw away the bits. I then had to let the butter sit in the fridge for some hours until it hardened up again to make the dough. I then mixed the resolidified, not browned, butter into the rest of the dough ingredients according to the recipe. This was blended together with finely chopped cashews and then rolled into balls (another thing I've never done with shortbread!) before placing them on the cookie sheet. The cooled cookies were supposed to be frosted, but given Favorite's dislike of frosting, I chose to simply push a cashew half into the top of each cookie while they were still warm and pliable.

All in all these cookies came out alright. The bottoms of the cookies spread a little too much and ended up browning, they were a little greasy, and as I suspected they did not acquire the delicate texture I think a shortbread should have. If I were to make these cookies again I think I would try better butter and go back to my old cutting in the butter technique. As a matter of fact, I may just start buying better butter either way as I am tired of my cookies coming out funny and would like to see if my store brand butter is the culprit.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Green Tea Cake with Adzuki Cream

The cake has been assembled! I finished making my matcha and red bean cake.

The cake part of this cake is a matcha sponge cake that I cooked in a jellyroll pan and then sliced into quarters. The filling is a sweetened whip cream with red bean paste. For those of you unfamiliar with red bean paste, or adzuki paste, it is made with cooked red beans, sugar, a pinch of salt, and a small amount of shortening for texture purposes. The beans are mashed and strained to remove hard bits and pieces of skin, and then it is all mixed together and simmered until thick. It is little labor intensive to make, but if you can't find it at your local store it's better to make it yourself I think than trying to buy it online. Plus then you have the added comfort of knowing the proportions of ingredients in your bean paste and having it be fresh and delicious and not taste like can!

So I made the bean paste early in the day because it takes HOURS to cook the beans. I then made the sponge cake and allowed it to cool. I whipped up the cream, added some sugar (not too much because the bean paste is sweet too) and then mixed in some bean paste until I liked the color. The recipe said 4 tbsp, but I might have put in up to twice that. Just taste it and stop adding when you like the flavor. I slathered the whipped cream mixture between the layers, stacked them up and then coated the whole thing. I put it in the fridge then to allow it all to set up a little. After dinner I made some gunpowder green tea and cut up the cake. I recommend using a bread knife and being delicate about cutting because if you're not you will squish out a lot of the filling and it just won't look very nice. Favorite had been questioning my judgement of mixing red bean paste with the green tea cake, but one bite changed that: "This is insanely delicious!!" So, we drank a whole pot of tea and ate more than half the cake in about 10 minutes.

I had seen this cake before and searched high and low on the internet for a recipe (had I known the filling was just whipped cream and bean paste I could have winged it, but I didn't). A lot of what I found was the green tea cake with chocolate. I didn't want to do that because it seemed to me the chocolate would overwhelm the delicate flavor of the matcha. The only version of this cake I could find was one for a jellyroll, but obviously the change in structure didn't hurt the tastiness of the cake. Here is the recipe for anyone else out there having a hard time locating one:

Matcha Cake with Adzuki Cream


  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • sugar to taste
  • 4 tbsp red bean paste


1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Grease parchment cut to fit jelly roll pan.
3. Beat egg yolks and ¾ cup of the sugar.
4. Add vanilla, water, and match powder at low speed.
5. In separate bowl beat egg whites with a pinch of salt.
6. Beat ¼ cup of sugar into egg whites until firm peaks form.
7. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl.
8. Gradually add dry mix to yolk mixture.
9. Fold half of meringue into yolk mix until smooth.
10. Carefully fold in remaining meringue.
11. Pour batter into jelly roll pan and bake for 8-15 minutes.
12. Turn cake onto wax paper dusted with powdered sugar and peel off backing parchment.
13. Allow cake to cool.
14. Whip cream and add sugar to taste.
15. Add bean paste.
16. Spread whipped mixture onto cooled cake and cut and stack layers until desired size.
17. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Toffee Chip Cookies

So another item that I am blogging post mortem (they are all gone) are some Toffee Chip Cookies. These, like the coffee cookies from the last post, called for refrigeration and slicing (which again I did not do!) but they seemed to work out with the mooshing method better than the coffee cookies. They were sweet and satisfying and a little crisper than typical drop cookie comes out. I made these with my sister Dayna and we ended up frosting some of them, ok, MOST of them, with a browned butter frosting that made them SUPER sweet but irresistible nonetheless. These were going to get a sprinkling of pecans, but they left the cooling rack at about the same rate they went on so the pecans never happened.

Coffee Frosted Coffee Cookies


So things have been crazy again lately and I have once again lapsed in my blogging diligence. I HAVE been baking though, but it has been kind of razed baking, not the kind where you slowly prep everything and take photos and admire the results. I will tell you my tales, though, even if I don't have all of the photographic evidence.

First off were the Coffee Frosted Coffee Cookies. I think in my Ultimate Cookie Book they were actually called coffee sandwich cookies or something, but I neglected a good portion of the recipe which was requisite for the sandwich part. My impatience has caused the end product to suffer once again.The image is terrible, I know. Anyhow, these were pretty simple cookies flavored with instant coffee granules. The cookies themselves were kind of tea cookie like. A little biscuity, but satisfying. The frosting was a cream and powdered sugar base flavored with instant coffee and coffee liquer. It really gave these a punch since none of the alcohol was cooked off. So the reason these cookies did not come out optimally was because it was a last minute throw together and I realized the recipe wanted me to chill the dough for some ridiculous number of hour so I could pat it into a rectangular log and slice off thin square cookies to make my sandwiches with. I, instead, used my cookie scooper and squashed then flat with my fingers. They tasty good, but were not of show quality for sure. Oh well.

I've also recently acquired some matcha powder which I have been trying to get forever. I made a really quick and easy shortbread that came out simply beautiful, though I thought the flavor was a little too delicate and could've stood a tad more matcha powder. They went so quick I did not get a snap of them. Never fear, they were simple and tasty enough that I will definitely make them again.

So this is a super lame post, but stay tuned because I have some adzuki beans boiling on the stove and a matcha genoise cooling on the table. There is a tasty layer cake in my future!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Malted Milk Cookies

I have been searching high and low for malted milk powder since I found a recipe in my Ultimate Cookie Book for mated milk cookies. They looked delicious and I love the flavor of malt (even when it's stolen from Favorite's beer making supplies!). Well I finally found my malted milk powder in Shaw's when I went to visit my mom on Friday. I was very excited to try out my malty cookies! The recipe was pretty straightforward as far as cookies go with the addition of malt powder and melted chocolate. The only minor issue was that I had no Whoppers to chop up and stick in the cookies. I didn't really care about this however, so I made about 16 cookies with no malt ball chunks. They were chewy, they were malty, they were... flat???

These were the flattest cookies I have ever baked save for the bocca di nonna. I was not too sad, but I could see from the picture that this was not how they were supposed to be. They were supposed to be fat like chocolate chip cookies! Well, I thought to myself, perhaps they really need the malt ball pieces to hold up in the oven better. I brought the 16 flat cookies to my mom's house where they were eaten to wash down the fantastic boiled dinner provided. The next day I picked up the malt balls. I chopped almost a whole box up, I mixed them in, I tried more, I tried less, I tried turning the heat down, all my cookies melted down to pancakes. I'm not sure what went wrong. I know that sometimes if your butter is too soft this will happen, but I left the remainder of the dough in the fridge overnight! Oh well. They were still scrumptious, but I am still left wondering how I erred.

Toffee Bars

This past Thursday night I was anxious to bake something. I had picked out Honey Nut Bars, a glorious looking combination of honey, walnuts, and coconut, but I wanted to bring these to my Mom's house and my Stepdad hates coconut. Add to that the fact that almost every goodie I've ever brought to their house has had coconut in it and I decided to make something else. Since toffee is one of his favorite treats I thought the Toffee Cookie Bars were a winning idea. They looked pretty simple and fast and tasty so I dove in.

I didn't get home until 9:30 because I have a class on Thursday nights, but I wasn't worried because it was just a matter of mixing and layering a couple ingredients, no big deal. So I threw together the cookie base which was mostly brown sugar and butter (YUM!) with flour and an egg yolk thrown in to make it a bit more substantial. This got pressed in the bottom of the pan that had been prepared with a greased parchment bottom and greased sides and baked for 20 minutes. Next was the sweet stuff. I was to mix a can of sweetened condensed milk with butter and cook until thick an bubbly. Now is where I hit a roadblock. I had NO sweetened condensed milk. My last minute change in dessert direction had me minus an ingredient! So I looked up some substitutions on the internet. One said use evaporated milk with added sugar. Ok, but I only had a tiny little 5 oz can of that. I ended up using th evaporated milk, plus about a cup or so of regular milk, plus a bunch of sugar. It took HOURS to concentrate the milk to a point I thought was thick enough. Then I added the butter, got it all bubbly, and poured it over the base. I baked this for another 12 minutes or so, covered it in chocolate chips, another couple minutes in the oven, spread the chips out into a smooth, consistent layer, and topped it all with toasted pecans.

I let the bars set overnight in the fridge after they had come to room temp. I then chopped them up with my trusty Wilton Cookie Shovel. I have to tell you, the recipe did not call to cover the bottom of the pan in greased parchment, but I am sure glad I did. I have never had much luck getting anything bar-like out of a rectangular pan in one piece, but the parchment allowed me to get the bars out much more easily, and without injuring the bottom of my pan.

These bars ended up delicious, but very, very sweet. I'm not even really sure the consistency was right due to winging the ingredients a little, but they are good with a strong cup of coffee. Oh! And Charlie (my Stepdad) thought they were great!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cinnamon Chocolate Macaroons

Okay, so I'm trying to make up for lost blogging time. This is my second post of the day because I did manage (despite completely forgetting about daylight savings time!) to carve a spot out of the day in which to bake.

I was back into my Ultimate Cookie Book today and it has produced another winner. I wanted to do something simple and already had my mind on meringue when I nearly opened the book right up to Cinnamon Chocolate Macaroons. Splendid!

I separated out my two whites and set them in the Kitchenaid bowl to come to room temperature while I prepared the rest of my ingredients. I chopped a half cup of pecans, got a cup of coconut, grated 1/2 an ounce of chocolate and even ground a teaspoon of cinnamon from the stick with the new hand powered spice grinder I bought (think the peppercorn grinders but with smashed cinnamon sticks in there instead).

After about a half an hour I started whipping up the whites with the vanilla until soft peaks. I then added the cinnamon and 2/3 cup of sugar gradually and beat until I got to stiff peaks. It already looked like I wanted to eat it at this point. I then folded in my nuts, coconut and chocolate.

The mixture then got plopped on parchment paper by the teaspoonful and sent into a 375 degree oven. The recipe said to bake them for 20 minutes, but I found that they were dry on the outside and set at about 17 minutes. Actually they probably could've come out at 15 or 16 minutes, as most came out a little hollow and with less chewy inside than I'd hoped, but they were still quite delicious.

When they came out they cooled for a bit on the pan and then the cooling rack. They didn't hold their heat for long and then Favorite and I were stuffing them in our faces. Sweet, nutty, chewy and fantastic! They could stand a little more chocolate, but the coconut, pecans, cinnamon, and chocolate are in amounts that compliment each other and adding more chocolate, though delicious, might detract from the other components.

All in all I would say these cookies were a success. They are great at satisfying a sweet craving but are so light you don't have to feel guilty about eating a couple. This, of course, is in complete contrast to the Bocca di Nonna of the last post which were overly rich and greasy with very little in the way of satisfaction.

That's all for today!! Hopefully I will be back soon to detail another foray into the adventures of tasty treats. I can't imagine these macaroons will last long...