Saturday, March 28, 2009

Back from Vacation

I'm back! Well... I never went anywhere. In fact, I'm on vacation right now... which is why I have a little bit of time to put these up. I have been keeping track of my baking endeavors (with the exception of some muffins that I completely forgot to take a picture of), I just haven't been posting them. 

I just got my wisdom teeth out, so I look like a chipmunk and am a little sore. But on top of that, I can't eat anything I make pretty much. I made some pudding-impostor experiments which worked to feed on, but not much past that. 


So- we begin chronologically:


Tart dyed pink in an attempt to make it more dainty looking. 
Not dainty, but delicious.

The fruit tart was made using sugar-cookie dough for the crust (always works) and baking that for about 10 minutes at 350. The filling is a creme made from one egg yolk, about one to one and a half cups of milk, three tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of flour to help thicken. This is done over the stove, and stirred continuously until thick. It should sit for a few minutes, then chill in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving. This would be really good with some more fruit... but I didn't have any. 


Flour Halva

If you are thinking "this isn't Halva", then we are thinking the same thing. REAL halva, the one made with sesame and full of wonderful happiness, is one of my favorite foods. We used to get it in bricks coated in chocolate and it would be gone by the end of the week. One of my many weaknesses, but its high on the list.

I don't remember where I found this recipe, but it was intriguing. Its just made with flour, a little butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some milk, "cooked" over the stove for a few minutes until it comes together as a dough. It tasted a little too much like flour for my taste, but I did use whole wheat flour, which tastes much stronger to me. 
Interesting- but I prefer cookies. Or real Halva.


Molten Chocolate Cake with Melted Chocolate and Sliced Bananas

One of the BF's favorites, so I had to make it for him one evening. This is a mini flourless chocolate cake that was still mushy in the middle, served warm with melted chocolate all over. Who could say no to that? I don't have a mixer at school, so making flourless chocolate cake requires me to overlook the whole beating the eggwhites until stiff..... which makes for a little bit of a funny texture (not really firm, but not airy either... kind of in the middle). Still, it tasted as it should, and anything covered in chocolate gets my vote of approval. 

(Recipe to come)


Citrus Madelines

90g sugar
180g flour
110g butter (room temperature)
3 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon
1t. orange extract

Preheat the oven to 350.
Combine butter, sugar, lemon zest, extract and egg yolks until smooth. Add the flour and combine until it comes together into a dough. 
Here is where you get to make a decision. This recipe was intended to make Spritz cookies, however I do not have any way to pipe them, so I pressed them into mini-madeline molds. Choose your weapon. 

Bake for 7-10 minutes (mine took 7-8, but if you use a pipe and make them bigger, they may need more time. Or if you want them crunchy- mine are kind of soft on the inside). Cool completely and devour.


Vanilla Sugar Cookies

If the recipe is easy and requires no cookie cutters (though festive, they are difficult), it becomes a regular. The first day I made these, they were half gone, and two days later I had to make another batch. This is thanks to my dear PJ who gave me a really great christmas cookie book when we exchanged christmas presents about two weeks ago. Our tummies thank you! (our arteries... not so much).

(Recipe to come)



The Great Experiment (or how I messed up buttercream frosting)

Me and egg whites have never been friends. I just can't seem to make them do what I need them to do. I have never made a successful meringue, never been able to get them to become white and fluffy for anything. I once made marshmallow soup "successfully"... though inadvertently 

So in my attempt to make some lemon buttercream frosting, the eggs did not fluff, the butter separated, and I was left with a tangy but soupy mess. So what did I do? I added about a cup and a half of whole wheat flour, some baking powder, and mixed in some raisins and dried blueberries. Stick it in the oven and about 25-30 minutes later I had a rather nice looking cake with a hint of lemon and full of dried fruits. Nuts would probably have made this really good, but I didn't want to waste them on an experiment. 

An approximate recipe:

1.5c. whole wheat flour
1 stick of butter (1/2c)
1/2c. sugar
1t. baking powder
3 egg whites
1/4c. milk
1/2c. raisins (or mixed dried fruits)
honey to drizzle over the top. 

Preheat the oven to 350.
So I mixed the egg whites, sugar and butter until it was a soupy mess, then added about 1 lemon worth of lemon juice. This can be skipped... since it was the cause of the mess up, but if you want, add it for authenticity. 
Add flour, baking powder and milk and mix until it forms a thick batter. Pour the batter into a cake pan or loaf pan (mine was about a 9"round) and sprinkle the dried fruit over the top. using a spatula, poke the fruit so it mixes into the top half. Pop into the oven for about 25 minutes (but keep an eye on it). If it turns too brown, cover it with aluminum foil. 

Allow to cool completely before eating. I haven't tried it yet (its still cooling) but I imagine its a mildly sweet coffee cake, best served with tea or... coffee. 


Go forth and devour.





Sunday, February 15, 2009

Go Nuts and Bananas




Since I have not been keeping up with putting these images on the web, here is a bunch from the last few weeks. 

Above: espresso cookies with a touch of cayenne then dipped in chocolate. A cup-o-joe per cookie.


Hazelnut sandwich cookies (recipe later)


Banana Bread (made with yogurt!) again, recipe later.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Frothed Milk and Toffee


I have discovered one of the best kitchen gadgets ever made: the milk frother (pictured above). My love for coffee has just been multiplied. I have frothed chocolate milk as well which is absolutely delicious. Frothing milk for cereal may have gone a little too far though...


Coming home from studio, T was hungry. So he brought over some fun stripy pasta! I had never tried anything like it before. 
 

It tasted all the same to me, but T insists otherwise. But it matched my plates, so I was happy. 

I got a request to make some peanut butter fudge squares, but upon searching for the recipe, I came across this recipe for toffee bars. Too good to pass up, I went out to the 7-eleven and CVS to find the ingredients. I had to do some modifying since I couldn't find much... and it ended up being a complete experiment. (I think the recipe is a bastardization of one of Dorie Greenspans'). I used Hershey's bars (a mix of the special dark and milk)... but I would suggest using at least baking chocolate chips for this. Next time. 




Toffee Crunch Bars

1 1/2 c. flour
1 T instant coffee or espresso powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. butter (softened)
3/4 c. brown sugar
3 oz. chocolate chips

Topping:
6-10 oz (depending how thick you want your chocolate layer) chocolate chips
1 c. crushed toffee bars (like Heath bars)


Preheat the oven to 375*F. 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder and salt. In a medium sized bowl, cream the sugar and butter until smooth. Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture and add the chocolate chips. Combine until it forms a dough. 

Butter a pan (around 9x13), and press the dough into it with your fingers, covering the bottom evenly and smoothly. Bake for 20 minutes or until baked through, when the bubbling slows down (be careful that it doesn't burn on the edges- mine singed a little bit, and later it will become very crunchy).

Remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven off. Evenly spread the chocolate chips over the dough and return to the oven for 2 minutes in order to melt the chocolate. Remove from the oven and quickly spread the chocolate over the dough evenly. Sprinkle the toffee crumbles over the chocolate evenly and allow them to cool. Cut into 2" squares (or whatever size you like). If the chocolate has a tough time setting, pop them in the refrigerator for a few minutes. You may have to break them apart a little when cutting them. Mine did not want to be cut square, but maybe I baked them a little too long. 

These are really crunchy and very sweet. They will be sure to satisfy all sugar and chocolate cravings. 

Enjoy with some frothed milk and coffee! 



Monday, January 19, 2009

When You Have Lemons...

I have had some strange contradictions of taste lately- one minute I want warm and comforting, the next I want fresh and light. So here is fresh and light! 

I have been looking for a yogurt cake recipe that isn't too rubbery. Most recipes work best with thick, whole milk yogurt like the Fage one, but I didn't have any on hand, so I used a basic lowfat one, and it worked pretty well. The lemon can be replaced with another citrus- orange, grapefruit, etc.



Lemon Yogurt Cake 

1 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. plain yogurt (thick, whole milk is best, but you can make the cake lighter by using a lowfat kind)
1 c. sugar
zest of 1-2 lemons (depending on your fondness of really lemony taste)
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. melted butter
1/3 c. lemon juice

glaze:
1 c. powdered sugar
3 T. lemon juice (or 1 1/2 T water and 1 t. vanilla)



Preheat the oven to 350*F


grate the zest of two lemons and squeeze the juice into a separate cup. Set aside. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, zest, butter, eggs and juice. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and using a hand mixer, combine until it forms a smooth batter. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan, then cool completely on a rack or dish. 

For the glaze- combine the sugar with the juice so it forms a glaze. Pour over the cake and let it harden for a few minutes. Enjoy either warm or at room temperature.





... and the next minute.... marble cake.




No-Ginger Snaps

I really do not like ginger, but I really do like all of the warm flavors that are often found with ginger like cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses. Its not hard to just get rid of the ginger, so I made these no-ginger snaps to go with the copious amounts of tea I drink to stay warm. 

This recipe is basically me wishing it was still the Christmas season. Hey, if its going to be this cold, it may as well be warm and delicious!



No Ginger Snaps (makes about 50)

2 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3 t. cinnamon (less if you want them a little milder)
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 - 1 t. black pepper (optional, it adds the heat you get from ginger)
1 t. salt
1 c. sugar (its best with dark brown sugar, but I used white)
1/4 c. oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup honey OR, replace this and 1/4 c. of the sugar with molasses

Preheat the oven to 350*F
Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, completely combine the sugar, oil, eggs and honey. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and using either your hands or a mixer, work until it forms a dough. This dough can be refrigerated for later or used immediately. 
Roll into 1 inch balls and place an inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the top is golden. Do not worry if they are very squishy as they will get harder and be chewy when they cool. Let them cool on the tray for 10 minutes before putting on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container if you want them to stay soft, or leave them out for a day or two if you want them a little crunchier. You can also bake them for a few extra minutes to make them harder. 

These are really good with a cup of tea or (my favorite of course) coffee. 


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pinwheels and Ladies

Mini Madelines

Being Jewish is only difficult two times a year- Christmas  day and Easter, which often falls during Passover. These are cruel tricks in life. But having the day to myself today, I decided to try some recipes that I had never attempted before. 

Madelines

4 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter, melted
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. orange extract

Preheat the oven to 400*F. 
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and extracts until they are thick (2-3 minutes). Slowly add the flour and egg and beat until fully combined. Spoon the batter into madeline trays (I had mini ones which worked fine- they cooked for just a little less time). Don't over-fill them too much, since they tend to bubble up and loose the shell-shape (the whole point, don't-you-know).  Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned at the top. Let them cool, then pop them out of the molds and finish cooling on a wire rack. 



Cranberry Scones

Thanksgiving left us with an abundance of extra cranberries. And scones are amazing. Therefore, there was only one solution:

I took a standard scone recipe and added cranberries. Since I was in a baking frenzy, I didn't keep track of what temperature it was at, so I just baked it until it was done. The closer you are to 400*, the more like 20 minutes, to 350, to 30 minutes. Keep an eye. 


Pinwheels

Too much cookie dough... mmmm

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Misc Cookie

The misc. cookie


This year we have decided to give gifts from our very own kitchen. After scrubbing the oven down (an annoying, but important thing to do), a couple of friends and I began the task of rolling out sugar cookies and making truffle balls. 

There was a lot of cookie dough eaten, a lot of chocolate licked off of spoons, and fully baked cookies consumed. Now I remember why I shouldn't do that....

Dark Chocolate Orange Truffles 

Truffles never fail (who can say no to chocolate in any form?) and are surprisingly easy. 

Basic Truffles:
16 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 package cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar. 
Flavor of your choice (I used orange extract, but I am excited to try raspberry sometime. Mint? Hazelnut? Go crazy)

Have the cream cheese at room temperature and melt the chocolate in a double boiler. 
Mix all of the ingredients well with a mixer or food processor until uniform in color and texture. Then put it in a bowl and into the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes- up to about an hour. (its a good idea to cover it with plastic wrap so it doesnt start to dry out). 
I used a teaspoon to get about the same amount of chocolate in each truffle. Roll into a ball in your hands and coat in cocoa powder. Let them sit for a couple hours to get a little hard before putting them in a box or container. 

YUMM!

Candied Orange Peels (Orangettes)

Take the peel of three oranges and slice them vertically (it works best if they are very narrow, 1/4 inch or so). Boil them for about 10 minutes in a saucepan half filled with water. Drain the water and add about one cup of sugar and one cup of water. Boil until it forms a syrup, then simmer for 30 minutes. Continue to add a little water if the syrup is really getting too sticky (keep it at about maple syrup consistency). For the last 10 minutes, stop adding water and allow the syrup to thicken substantially. Before everything turns into one sticky burned mess, remove the peels and separate them onto a piece of wax paper. Coat with granulated sugar and roll them around so they stop being sticky. Let them cool and dry overnight. You can coat them in chocolate if you like. 


Sugar cookies with Apricot Jam

Basic sugar cookies + some really small cookie cutters + some jam = pretty cookies with jam (go figure). 

Happy Holidays!