Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: March

My first Daring Baker's Challenge called for a delicious citrusy dessert. It's called Orange Tian. This was a blast to make and actually not difficult at all, just a bit time consuming. The base or crust is called Pate Sablee and is alone reason enough to make this recipe, I promise you will be using it again. I have already used this particular crust for 2 desserts I have made since! It's flaky, sweet, and dense, a great crust for tarts and even cheesecake. I actualy ended up making 2 diferent sizes for this challenge, a few personal portion sizes and a family style size. Both turned out beautiful. I would definitely make this dessert again and try using a different fruit or filling. Thanks Jennifer & thanks Daring Kitchen!

Orange Tian
You can find the original recipe here.
For the Pate Sablee:

2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams
Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.
Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.
Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.
For the Marmalade:

Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked
Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.
Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.
Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.
Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).
Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.
In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).
Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.
For the Orange Segments:
For this step you will need 8 oranges.
Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.
[See YouTube video in the References section below for additional information on segmenting oranges.]
For the Caramel:
Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams
Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.
Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.
Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.
[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]
For the Whipped Cream:
Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon
In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]
Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.
Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.
Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.
Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.
Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.
Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.
Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.
Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.
Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.
Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.
Preparation time:
- Pate Sablee: 20 minutes to make, 30 minutes to rest, 15 minutes to roll out, 20 minutes to bake
- Marmalade: 20 minutes to make, 30 minutes to blanch
- Orange segments: 20 minutes, overnight to sit
- Caramel: 15 minutes, overnight to sit
- Whipped Cream: 15 minutes
- Assembling: 20 minutes
- Freezer to Set: 10 minutes

Thursday, March 25, 2010

i ate this

The Chocolate's Pecan Tart! A dessert cafe in Orem right off of State St is what's causin' all the commotion these days.  Located in a quaint of all quaint buildings ( if i'm not mistaken this building is historical). The owner, Ange (an-gee), is just a doll and has really turned this place out. The decor is to die for; pink walls and vintage furniture; and there's always a fresh bouquet of perfectly arranged flowers on each table. You cant help but feel that much more femme the second you step foot inside. They do an array of baked and non baked goods from sugar cookies, to cupcakes, to tarts and bars. My absolute fave indulgence of course being their pecan tart, or their version of it anyway: rich caramel sauce atop a pecan & walnut base adorned with chocolate buttercream and sprinkled with more toasted hello where have you been all my life? They do birthdays, weddings, bridal showers, you name it. So stop into The Chocolate next time your in the area or are in need of a sweet fix.

                                                        The Chocolate's Pecan Tart

I ate this

Ahhh! Is that...a fish head?! Indeed it is, or was. This was the fish entree I ordered a few weeks back from El Gallo Giro in Provo, Ut. I wouldn't actually recommend this dish, but I wanted to post this pic because its basically just really awesome. El Gallo Giro actually is one of my FAVORITE places to eat here in Provo. It's definitely the best mexican food anywhere in a 30 mile radius. Absolutely authentic menu from menudo, to what they call "the rock" which is otherwise known as  "El Molcajete." Their chips are homemade which is a HUGE plus for me ( i really dislike going to these "authentic" mexican restaurants that sell you chips out of a bag from the grocery store just deep fried again-lame.) there thick and crispy and almost always hot when served to your table. The guacamole is some of the best I've tried, they actually bring a rock style mortar & pestle to your table and mash it by hand right in front of you, how much more fresh can you get? For your meal I would recommend the Tres Tacos (any meat is great) or the Pollo, it comes in 1/4, 1/2 or whole which is fork tender and seasoned really well. My mouth is watering as I write this, looks like it's mexican for dinner tonight : P

Check out a review of El Gallo Giro here

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

i went here

Folsom, Ca! My parents live in El Dorado Hills, Ca so any chance I get, I fly home. One of my favorite things to do when I'm in town is to head over to Folsom (the next town over) for some of their hidden gems. One of which is Karen's Bakery in "old Folsom" off of Gold Lake Dr. The first time I visited this cozy bakery I actually got to meet Karen, the owner. Absolutely wonderful gal with a true talent for baking. I know I boast about a lot of things I have tried or made, but everything I have eaten at her bakery far surpasses anything in the same category. I try to sit and contemplate what she could have done to make her baked treats THAT good perfect; I'm left perplexed. You just have to go there and try it for yourself to truly understand how one can be speechless after a taste. I haven't even made it to her cafe menu yet, it seems my eyes are always bigger than my stomach :) But the selection seems phenominal with everything from homemade quiche to delectable sandwiches on ciabatta bread made right in the kitchen. My suggestions if your in the neighborhood is to try the apple walnut muffin if nothing else. I don't even normally like apples in my baked items but this alone is reason enough for me to make a trip home. For someone who learned everything from her mom, I'd say she is far more than accomplished.

i went here

Sacramento! I flew home to California a couple months ago to spend a few days with my boyfriend and parents in Lake Tahoe (my favorite place in the world). Before heading up east, I made sure to stop at a cupcakery in Sacramento I had been eye-ing for some time prior. I am so glad that we did. Babycakes Bakery is an awesome little shop just off of J St in Sac. With it's quaint location it is easy to miss (we drove by it twice) but keep searching, it is definitely worth it. I was quickly drawn to the single bakery case holding over what seemed like a thousand  beautifully decorated cupcakes (it was probably more like 100). One caught my eye, the properly named High Hat: the BEST cupcake I have ever eaten. I'm a little sad I only have pictures from my iphone for these exquisite cuppies, but even these low quality pics will make you drool. If your in the area definitely stop by this delightful bakery and try some of their adorable cupcakes.

Oh the High Hat, how I adore you. This cuppie consists of a chocolate cake and meringue "frosting" coated in a delicious mess of more chocolate. yummm.

The Margarita cuppie consists of a lemon cupcake, lime curd filling  and topped with lime buttercream :)

Homemade Organic Granola

After all these cookie posts...I decided it was time to make something a little more on the healthy side. With  bathing suit season around the corner, I figured you guys might like something that's still delicious but easy on the waistline as well. You will have NO idea that this granola is even healthy. I made 2 batches yesterday and there both already gone. Of course I did package some to gift for friends, but lets be honest I'm the main culprit here. I've been snacking on this all day, and its gotten better with every bite. Add any dried fruit or nut you'd like, the possibilities are endless! Whether plain, on top of yogurt, or paired with milk for a delicious cereal change, this stuff is just plain grrrrrreat! ;)

Homemade Organic Granola
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
(with my personal changes)

2 cups organic rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split (you can use 1 tsp. of vanilla extract as well)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped  

1/3 cup golden raisins &  dried cranberries
1/4 cup black mission figs chopped
1 tbsp. candied ginger chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use silicone mat.

In a large bowl, toss the oats with cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, or measuring cup,  stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Pop in microwave for 30 seconds to melt the brown sugar, stir. 

Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use a wooden spoon to combine them.  Stir well until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds, walnuts, and pecans over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven. ( the granola will look and feel "
wet," this is how it is supposed to be, even after the full baking time it still will feel a bit wet, when you cool it on the baking sheet it will harden I promise) :)

Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Return the baking sheet to the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola and use your hands to transfer it to an airtight container. 

The granola will keep for 1 week. 

Verry Berry Cheesecake

I've had a lot of cheesecakes in my day, (I say that like I've been around for a while) : P I really have tried a fare share. The cheesecake Factory is one of my favorite places to eat and I've tried a good selection of cheesecakes on their menu. I'm normally pretty modest about my baking, but in this case I just can't be. THIS CHEESECAKE IS FABULOUS! Honestly, THE best cheesecake I have ever had. The fact that I made it absolutely flabbergasts me. Regardless I guess I'll take the credit. I think a lot of people might be a little weary to make a cheesecake. DON'T BE. It really is a simple dessert to make, with a far from simple outcome. I have quite a few variations of this cheesecake that I make with the same basic recipe, so versatile as well! This berry rendition is one of, if not my favorite. The creaminess of the cake paired with the tartness of the berries, and the crunchiness of the crust, is a perfect combination. The colors make this dessert a great idea for a 4th of July Barbecue or party! So if I were you, I would "favorite" this recipe and whip it out when you really want to impress your friends & family.

Verry Berry Cheesecake

6 graham crackers
1/4 cup nuts (your choice)
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. butter-melted (or more if needed)

5 (8oz) packages cream cheese
1 3/4 cups sugar
2tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. lemon rind-zested

Verry Berry Topping

1 (16oz.) package fresh strawberries, quartered.
2 (8oz.) packages fresh blueberries.
1/2 cup sugar
2tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup fruit juice ( I used orange.)
2 tbsp. corn syrup


For the crust:
In a food processor combine all crust ingredients except for the butter. Pulse until crumbly. Slowly add melted butter and pulse until consistency is like damp sand (if you pinch crumbs in between fingers it should hold together). Turn over into 9' spring form pan and press down with palm or bottom of glass firmly. Place in refrigerator while assembling cake.

For the cake:
In  a medium sized bowl fitted with a paddle attachment cream: cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla, until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
Add eggs and egg yolks, mix on low to combine.
Stir in whipping cream and lemon zest.
Pour into pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. (cake will be slightly jiggly in the middle when done, this is okay as it will set upon cooling.)
Cool on wire rack completely.

For the topping:
Bring the sugar and 1/2 cup juice to a boil.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining juice. Add to the boiling juice and cook until thick.
Stir in the corn syrup. Bring back to a boil and remove from heat.
Cool, drizzle 3/4 of glaze over fruit before garnishing top of cake.

Remove sides of spring form pan and place whole cheesecake on a wire rack placed on top of a baking sheet. Place glazed berries on top of cake and decorate how you would like. Drizzle extra glaze over the berries (this is why you have a baking sheet under the rack, it can get a little messy). 
Slice with a warm knife & enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

i went here

Long Beach! I work for JetBlue and blessed with the opportunity to fly across the country! Long Beach is our major west coast "hub," so a lot of the flights out of Salt Lake City, layover there. I couldn't pick a better place to be forced to spend a whole day at than there. It's such a fun and spunky little beach town. The people are overly friendly and just about everyone has a dog (which is a huge plus for me as I almost die without Harley, every time I travel.) But of course these aren't the only plus(es)...2nd Street has an unbelievable selection of fine and casual dining. Till this day one of the BEST dishes I have ever had is at, Le Creperie. They specialize in, you guessed it, crepes. And these aren't just any crepes, these are made with love and crack cocaine, they will have you ADDICTED, fast. : P The selection is unbelievable. I don't even know where to begin. I recommend you check out their menu for yourself, here, not only for the menu but the really cool French woman that sings when you open the page, quite catchy. The first time I went in, I was astounded with the atmosphere. Decorated head to toe with glamorous embellishments, it is absolutely beautiful. I met the chef as well on my first visit who is actually 1/2 Taiwanese like me! (there was an instant connection.) He brought me an array of their best dishes starting with garlic french fries and ending with a special soufflé, not even on the menu! I felt so pampered. But, none of that compared to the way I felt when I took a bite of the Parisian crepe (chicken breast, fresh spinach, sweet red peppers and mozzarella in a basil & feta cream sauce) words at first, just a big smile on my face. This crepe was so savory, with the perfect balance of every ingredient, not one overpowered the other. I could literally drink the cream sauce, it was unbelievable. Next time your in Long Beach, put it on your to-do list to stop by Le Creperie, you won't regret it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Paula Deen's Chocolate Mousse

Oh my, this post is dedicated to all you uber chocolate fans out there! Whew-eeee this mousse is INTENSELY the best way possible. This is the extreme degree of decadence. The first bite I took from the first batch I made had me addicted immediately, and the rest was history (the rest of the batch anyway :p). Seriously good eats here people. And how could it not be? It's made by the one and only Paula Dean! She is a saint in the kitchen with her down home country style cookin' and bakin', gotta love her, and her rich, decadent, chocolate mousse recipe! That's all. :)

White Chocolate Chip Toasted Macadamia Nut Cookies

 I was a little intimidated to make these cookies, I'll confess to you. I mean honestly, I don't think I've ever tried a wccmn cookie, anywhere, that wasn't outrageously delicious- whether from a bakery, or my next door neighbor. I just figured for a quick minute that I didn't want to compete with all these white chocolate nuts. Until I stared at foodgawker too long and began to salivate, then got in my car and headed to the store to buy these (ridiculously pricey) Australian nuts. Plus, I had to make something to bring to a BBQ the next day so I figured what the hay?

I'm so glad I decided to grow a pair and make these! These are by far the best cookies I have ever made. Everything you dream at night about cookies, comes true with these fairy tale pieces of heavenliness. (I'm obviously no English major.) The ULTIMATE white chocolate chip cookie my people, and it's right here waiting for you to enjoy, so Enjoy!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Yield: About 2 dozen cookies (depending on size)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups chopped macadamia nuts (I toasted these with sea salt for an extra 'umph')
2 cups white chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
3. Beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the egg, then beat in the egg yolk, then beat in the vanilla.
4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until just moistened. Stir in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips by hand with a rubber spatula.
5. Roll into balls or drop by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets, and press down on the cookies with your palm a bit to flatten (not too much!).
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges look golden brown and the middles don’t look quite set. Allow to finish cooling on the baking sheet.
(Adapted from Crepes of Wrath)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies

I've been experimenting and putting many hours into my kitchen to find you the BEST darn chocolate fudge cookie out there...your welcome. ;)  I'm serious about how good perfect these cookies are. The combination of chewy, chocolatey, sweet, salty, and the nuttiness of the white chocolate chips make this one big party for your mouth. I promise once you bake a batch of these, you'll be hooked and baking plenty more by request. So, without further adieu here's the only recipe for chocolate fudge cookies you'll ever need.

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter-softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla
10 oz. white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Nuts optional

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl sift together the first 4 ingredients.
In another medium sized bowl fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, mix well.
Stir in the flour mixture just to combine. (this dough is really "wet" and messy, don't worry that's why it's so darn good.)
Stir in the chocolate and white chocolate chips.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the tops of the cookies begin to crack.
Cool on a wire rack.

Gargantuan Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

Spring is officially here! And although it is still cold where I'm from (cold is 70 degrees or lower for me), it still feels fitting to post my homemade Ice Cream Sandwich pics! Hooray these remind me of a time when I won't have to dress in long johns and wool socks! The ice cream sandwich is extremely versatile and can be tweaked to tickle anyones taste buds, and SO easy to make! Not to mention a great activity for you and the kids, or anyone! (we're all kids at heart right?) So whether you call it a monaco bar, maxibon cookie, slider, or just plain old ice cream sandwich-y goodness, why not whip some of these bad boys out this spring/summer and reap the benefits of a great dessert without all the elbow grease, yuck! ;)

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwhiches
Adapted from Country Living

the easy how to:

Bake or buy a batch of your favorite cookies, (notice these plump cookies from anywhere? my last post?) ;)  fill with your favoite ice cream, (don't be afraid to mix things up; ice cream and can't go wrong) making homemade ice cream would kick this recipe up a notch even! Then, coat the sides with sprinkles, chocolate chunks, chopped nuts, candied ginger - try it! or any ingredient that makes your tummy nummy. Freeze on a tray until firm, then wrap tightly in wax paper (or foil) and stack in an airtight container. Delicious anytime, anywhere!

The white and brown fluffy stuff in here is actually homemade vanilla and chocolate whipping cream, which tastes great and really holds its shape frozen. I also added some dark chocolate shavings cause, you know how I do :P

My Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookies

by request ;)

I feel like I've been posting nothing but cookies lately...but that's never a bad thing right? I don't know about you, but to me, cookies are the ultimate nostalgia.Well, I guess what I think the ultimate nostalgia would feel like, I actually didn't grow up in a home with sweets. The most sugar my older brother and I consumed growing up, was fruit. Maybe it was because we didn't have a baker in the home? I know I know, you can send me oodles of teary-eyed messages below. But I'll be honest, I am kind of grateful because I think that's what sparked my uber-obsession with the kitchen and baking! So hooooray for no sweets growing up (: / ) This was actually THE cookie that started it all for me, in the kitchen. I found out I had a knack for baking after I threw together a batch of these divine delights, delivered them to friends, and soaked up all the hurrah afterwards. I was thusly hooked. Anyway, I guarantee you will not feel nothing short of  exactly that nostalgia I talk about with this ultimate peanut butter recipe.

Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookies

2 sticks butter-softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar-packed
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (I use chunky, I think it adds to both texture and flavor)
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl fitted with a paddle attachment mix together the butter, sugars, and peanut butter just until blended.
Sift together dry ingredients and add to the peanut butter mixture, add the vanilla.
Add eggs 1 at a time mixing well after each addition.
Roll dough into large balls, I use a heaping scoop (from an ice cream scoop).
Optional: make indentations with a fork in a criss-cross pattern, pressing down slightly to flatten the cookie dough just a smidge. 
Bake for 20 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Yummm, there's nothing like a shortbead cookie. Rich, delicate, buttery, and Scottish- these babies are perfet paired with a tall glass of milk. And not just paired with milk, try adding Callebaut chocolate discs and you'll soon be floating into an oasis of cookie love. Yeah, you can't go wrong. This is the first recipe I've tried for this cookie, but its definitely one I'll be using over and over again. So, if you've never tried shortbread, and you love ridiculously delicious things to eat...I HIGHLY recommend you grab the best tool you have in the kitchen, your hands, and get to baking!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup superfine (or baking) sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Callebaut, in my opinion the best chocolate to bake with)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Line the base of an 8-in.-square (20-cm.) pan with parchment paper.
Sift the flour and cornstarch in a medium bowl, add the sugar, and stire to combine.
Using your fingers, cut the butter into the mixture.(get down and dirty!) Add the chocolate discs(or chips) and knead well.
Turn the shortbread dough into the prepared pan and pack it down with the back of a spoon. Prick well with a fork and mark 8 wedges.( basically 8 triangles, mine didnt turn out so pretty so maybe don't use mine as your example : P )
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until pale golden.
Remove from the oven and cool in the pan.
Sprinkle with superfine sugar.
Store in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Okay, I have a kick a** coffee cake recipe, I'm just gonna come straight out and say it. : P I sold this to a local art gallery/cafe and it got eaten up, everytime, no exceptions. Actually, I'm not 100% sure if it ever made it to the pastry shelf or if the employees scarfed it down everytime before it ever had a chance. Anyway, without a doubt it is good, really good, and such a versatile cake, you can initially add/alter this in any way you'd like with whatever fruit, nut, or extract your in the mood for. So, try it, it's a keeper.

Meili's Cinnamon Cream Cheese Streusal Coffee Cake

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat works great as well)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. each: ground nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, allspice

1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Streusal Topping:
1/4 cup sugar (brown sugar works great or 1/2 of each)
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter (semi-soft)
1tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl fitted with a paddle attachment for 3-4 minutes.
Add the eggs & sour cream and beat for another 3 minutes.
Sift together in a seperate bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, and spices & add to creamed mixture, mix on low just until combined.
Spread 1/2 of the batter into the bottom of a greased spring form pan.
In another bowl, mix cream cheese with the egg yolk for 1 minute, add sugar and vanilla and mix to combine. ( I like to mix this long enough to make it a bit lighter in consistency, more like a whip, that way it is easier to spread over the coffeecake mixture.)
Spread filling mix over coffeecake mix. Spoon remaining 1/2 of coffee cake mixture over top, be careful not to disrupt the filling mixture as much as possible.
Make the stresual topping by combining all ingredients and using a pastry cutter or fork to cut the butter into the topping mixture until it resembles crumbles. Sprinkle over top.
Bake for 50-55 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until almost room temperature before removing springform. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies

SO...this is actualy my first time making sugar cookies, HA. I know I can't really believe it either, how do you go 22 years without making a single sugar cookay? Probably because I've had awesome friends and rommates who have made them for me :) Well I got a major craving last night after browsing the web (aka foodgawker) and decided to make a batch, or 2, or 3. I had to make up for lost time right? I ended up with a kitchen counter full of warm, soft, and chewy cookies, blue fingers, and a stained white T-shirt (it was worth it). This recipe was DElish. I recommend it to anyone wanting the ideal sugar cookie, maybe not the BEST recipe for cutouts, these didnt seem to hold their shape that well. But, GREAT for roll out and drop style, which is basicaly my much more cool way of describing the technique: rolling the dough, shaping into any size ball..and dropping it onto the cookie sheet, simple. I would flatten the dough with the back of a kitchen knife or even ur palm so they cook all the way through. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Rolled Sugar Cookies
from AllRecipes (recipe here)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.


4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring

In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners' sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pizza & Peanut Butter Cups!

Last night a few of us celebrated a friend's birthday with a homemade PIZZA night! Wow, every peice that came out of the oven was unbelievable! Every inch of the kitchen counters were covered with a variety of fresh ingredients like artichoke hearts, sundried tomatos, figs, prosciutto, italian salame, and delicious cheeses like parmigiani reggiano, fresh mozz, and goat cheese. We bought dough from a local pizza joint, Nicolitalia Pizzeria and went to town with ingredients, throwin together and making some of the most fabulous tasting pizzas. My favorite among the many (i think we made a total of like 7!) was my all time favorite pizza in general: tomato sauce, mozzerella, prosciutto, goat cheese, and arugula. The combination of fresh ingrendients, friends, and the pizza stone made every last bite utterly sensational.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to get ahold of the pictures of pizza from that night but because it's been a week since my last post, I'm gonna go ahead and publish this now, with the absence of those pictures! As soon as I get them I'll 'fill in the blanks' ;) enjoy!
(oooh delicious picture of pizza here)Italic

We actually used a homemade dough for a couple of the pizzas as well, it wasn't actually a pizza dough, but turned out fabulous anyway. Look at how much it rose in the oven!

(huge-mongous pizza with homemade dough pic here)
Of course I had to contribute, not only with my rediculously amazing pizza tossing skills.. :P but with DESSERT. The main course if you ask me. I actually didn't have too much time to throw something together because I ended up having to work late, so I decided to make homemade Peanut Butter Cups! They were a lot of fun to make, and even more fun to eat :) These are a great (and easy) last minute dessert or anytime dessert, and so versatile, the filling possibilities are endless! I made 4 different "fillings": chunky peanut butter, peanut butter & caramel, caramel, & my favorite; caramel & pecans!
Adapted from The Hungry Mouse

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

For the candy shells: 3-4 cups chocolate chips (4 if you like em' texas size big like me)
For the peanut butter filling: 1 cup peanut butter1/2 cup powdered sugar1 tsp. vanilla extract

I used my normal caramel sauce recipe just because I didn't have time to research a more "chewy" caramel recipe. The outcome was a delicious ooey-gooey caramel consistancy when chilled. A more solid caramel recipe would be great here (and less messy) as well.

Caramel Sauce

1/2 c butter

1c brown sugar
1/3-2/3c heavy cream

1tsp. vanilla

Melt butter, add brown sugar whisk 2 min, add cream whisk 2 min, mix in vanilla. (Make sure you test the consistancy and be sure the sugars are completely dissolved, otherwise you can end up with a grainy caramel. )

Melt your chocolate:
Grab your chocolate chips. Set a pot with an inch of water on the stove over high heat. Bring the water up to a boil, then drop the heat to low. Set a large, heat-proof bowl on top of the pot.
Add your chocolate to the bowl. It should immediately start to melt. Stir with spatula until completely melted, remove from heat, set aside.

Make your peanut butter filling:
Put ingredients into a bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix together until combined. (I did this for about 5 minutes so the consistancy of the peanut butter was more fluffy, you can also use a different flavor extract here if your imagination says so :)

Make the chocolate cups:
Grab your cupcake liners. I put mine in the actual mufin pan to help with stability but you definitely can do it without. Use a big spoon and poor into bottom of cup, use 2 big spoonfulls for thick cups. Use the back of your spoon to push or spread chocolate up onto sides on cupcake liners. Once all done, place in freezer or fridge to chill.

Add your filling:
Spoon your filling into chilled chocolate cups and press down with finger (if using peanut butter) until even. (if your using caramel, be sure it has cooled to atleast room temperature so it does not disturb the chilled chocolate or peanut butter. Poor over filling.) I would set the cups in the fridge for another couple minutes if your filling is still hot that way when you top it off the chcocolate is not disturbed. Spoon enough chocolate over the top of the filling to create a "seal". Once all done, chill for atleast 20min to make sure the chocolate has set.
Wallah! Delicious homemade peanut butter cups, a great ending to a truly delicious night

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I did the MAC.

MACorons that is. For the longest time I was so confused looking into bakery windows at the word 'Macaron' and wondering where all the coconut was? Any one else been in the same boat as me? Anyway after must frustration I decided to google the word, and sure enough, Macaron and Macarooooooons are 2 different desserts. And boy am I glad I made this distinguishment because Macarons are absolutely devine. The possibilities are endless with these french desserts and since googling, I have been obsessed at the many pictures of these beautiful delicate treats on foodgawker. I decided to try to make some of these babies after a trip I took to SanFrancisco- trying 4 diferent flavors at one of the best french bakeries I've ever laid...teeth into, Patisserie Philippe. Wow, each mac was bursting with its specific flavor, passion fruit, hazelnut, pistachio, rosewater...oh I was in love.

When I returned home I thought, "how hard can these be?" Haha to my surprise, VERY. I think it's more technique than anything else when making these, I definitely did not have mine down to a T the first time, but I'm destined to try, try again until I reach mac perfection. So with all else said here is my first attempt doin the MAC.
Chocolate Macarons
Makes about fifteen cookies
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway) by David Lebovitz
Macaron Batter1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar
Chocolate Filling
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces
(I used a peanut butter whip for the filling this time because I actually ran out of chocolate, if I thought the filling was good enough to share, I would.) :)
Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.
Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn't quite fine enough.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).
Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

My love-hate relationship with the NY Times CCC Recipe

So I've become addicted to foodgawker; the uber amazing foodie website that will leave you drooling. I couldn't help but notice like a billion CCC (chocolate chip cookie) recipes (not a surprise) and a few repeated recipes that multiple food bloggers have been testing over the years, such as The NY Times recipe, Dorie Greenspan's, and Cooks Illustrated. I decided I wanted to try all of them and be the judge for myself. So, I made the NY Times Recipe last night.

I have to say that these are by far the best looking cookies I've ever made. Absolutely looks like a CCC supermodel. Plump, slighty browned on the edges, and chalked full of chocolate chips. It is absolutely DETRIMENTAL that you let these cookies sit in your fridge for AT LEAST 24 hours, if you can 36 is even better. If you don't, the flavor and texture profile of these cookies is completely different. I baked a batch the night I made the dough and did not like the outcome at all. I was almost skeptical to bake the chilled dough 2 days later because I didn't think it was worth the effort after that first batch. THANK GOODNESS I did. The 2nd batch of cookies were phenominal. Slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I took them to a friend's work and they were a hit. So, definitely worth trying this recipe in my opinion, IF you have the patience to let the dough sit for 2days :)

NY Times Chocoate Chip Cookie Recipe
Adapted from Jacques Torres, recipe from the NY Times
Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour1
2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour1
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.