Archive | August, 2010

Don’t forget to watch me :)

26 Aug

I think it’s finally time to post my fudge pictures! So in case you haven’t heard, I made fudge two weeks ago for my Daily Herald escapade! My mom nominated me for the “Cook of the Week” feature in the Food section of  the Daily Herald. At first I felt a little silly, like why should I be the cook of the week? But then I realized that the paper needs 52 different people for this feature every year, so why not me?

The process began with a 45 minutes phone interview about three weeks ago. Laura, the interviewer, asked me a bunch of questions about my baking history, favorite recipes and just general info. It was fun to be on this side of an interview again. Then we scheduled the online video portion for the following week and decided I would be making fudge for the segment.

So fast forward to the shoot, where I had to prepare fudge in advance and then again on camera. My recipe change-up for this one was adding chocolate milk into the mix. I really don’t know if it made a difference, but anything to add more chocolate to something sounds good to me! You can check out the article and the recipe on theDaily Herald site. This was honestly one of the most fun things I’ve done in my life, and it was seriously delicious! The batch of fudge I made in the video clip was the creamiest ever, I think it might be because I didn’t rush anything in the process. I hope you enjoy the pictures, video and article – and if you’re anywhere in Schaumburg, stop by and get some fudge out of my house… please!

cinna-mini marathon

24 Aug

In case you don’t know, I gave up desserts for two weeks. I know it’s not a huge deal, but it did force a mini baking marathon upon me Sunday night. Not just so I could have a few sweet bites before my dessert detox, but because I had some occasions I couldn’t let myself miss.

I just realized I never posted my fudge info, but I think that would be a better thing to write about tomorrow!! Either way, there’s quite a bit of fudge in my freezer for Septemberfest, so I thought I’d fill the rest of the freezer drawer with desserts for Labor Day weekend. I’m not sure why all of my Sunday desserts were cinnamon-filled, but it definitely led to a Christmas in August feeling, to quote my dad, “this is the best smell ever.”

I choose to make Snickerdoodle Blondies from a great blog, I made a few changes, as always, and subbed half Crisco for butter (because I ran out) and also added chocolate chips – both semi-sweet and 60% cacao – because i like chocolate in my desserts!  I have yet to glaze them because I thought it would be best to wait ’til they’re defrosted and almost ready to eat for that. I figured these bars would be a good complement to the fudge, and I know my brother, Tommy likes things that taste like Life cereal and I have a feeling the cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on top may have that taste-sensation for him.

Next up on the cinnamon-fest was cinnamon pecan biscotti. This is for my grandpa’s birthday, he’s turning 80 on Friday! My grandparents live in Arkansas, but since my mom and her siblings are making a weekend trip to celebrate, I figured I HAD to send something along with her. My grandpa is one of my biggest fans (at least in the dessert world 🙂 and he is a huge pecan lover, and loves biscotti with his coffee (or anytime of day… he’s 100% Italian so it’s a given). I found this recipe and felt like the cinnamon would be a good twist to traditional biscotti, plus since my mom has to fly to Little Rock and then drive a bit to Hot Springs Village, there’s no fear that these guys will get stale – biscotti is dried out due to the double-baking, so I know they’ll survive. I didn’t necessarily chose this recipe because it is “healthier,” but that’s a nice twist, also I probably need to use whole wheat flour more often.

Finally I whipped up my trusty Oatberries because Friday is also my manager’s birthday and he really likes them. This batch turned out a little different from my usual. I did have to sub for about 1/8 cup of oats (I used them in the biscotti) so I thought I’d put in a little extra flour and then some graham cracker crumbs for texture, and according to my parents they still tasted delicious. I also thought I’d sprinkle cinnamon on top of half of them before hitting the oven, just for fun, but none of that resulted in the difference. The issue here was that my newest bag of frozen blueberries happened to be a bit tinier than whatever kind I’m used to and therefore they broke a little from my KitchenAid… and these cookies are pretty much blue.

Immediately after I added the blueberries, I thought maybe I should have gently folded them instead of letting the mixer do the work. I actually usually make these guys with a hand mixer, so I suppose that could be part of the problem, but either way we’re talking very blue cookies. I’m sure they taste fine (and Sunday I tried one, so I actually am sure) but they make me laugh. They should be called oatblue-ies.

Picnic Cupcakes

18 Aug

My mom is the coordinator of ConKerr Cancer Chicago Chapter and it was time once again to thank her many volunteers! This time with a picnic! And like most of her events, she asked me to add a dessert to the smorgasbord. She asked for my usual graham cracker cake in multi-colored cupcakes, but I wanted to try something new, so I opted for this recipe I’ve had bookmarked for a few weeks.

The recipe is different from my usual graham cracker cake because this one just adds a bit of graham, cinnamon, butter mixture to the cake batter right before it goes into the oven vs. my other recipe that requires quite a bit of graham crumbs instead of flour. The process of egg yolks and then whites made this recipe kind of long, but the batter tasted delicious and the cupcakes were very fluffy the first day. The recipe said it makes 24 cupcakes, but I got 25 plus 12 mini muffins.

I also made the frosting from the recipe, which is a fun twist on traditional cream cheese frosting, which I usually don’t like, but with the cinnamon sugar mixture it was sweet enough for me, and a good compliment to the cupcake. My mom asked for fun colors to go with the bright children’s pillowcases the group makes, so I used my favorite sanding sugars to decorate.

I feel like these cupcakes spent a little too much time in the refrigerator because I ended up having to make and frost them two nights in advance. I would love to try them again the day of an event and see the results since the flavors were a good mix. I would also recommend these for a brunch because they’re very breakfast-y. Maybe serve them as muffins with the cream cheese mixture on the side as a spread? Let me know if you do!

Salty Sweet

7 Aug

There are some people out there who are just super nice, great people, and they deserve cookies on their birthday. One of those people is a hostess at the restaurant I work at and she turned 21 last week, a perfect occasion for me to try out a new cookie recipe.

As with most of my recipes, I found this one online, probably via twitter and decided it was going on my list of things to make. Basically I bookmark any recipe I’m interested in making, so then whenever the baking urge hits I have something ready to make.

This recipe sounded fantastic, and it was a great excuse to buy a delicious bag of pretzel M&Ms. If you haven’t tried them yet, I encourage you to go grab some. They’re fantastic.

The pretzel consistency is a fun addition to the basic M&M we’ve loved all these years and what a great idea to add these to chocolate chip cookie. M&M cookies are delish, and pretzel ones are even better. In addition to the yummy add-ins, this recipe called for sea salt on the cookie dough right before baking. You wouldn’t believe how much of an amazing difference this makes. The light dust of salt combined with the buttery cookies made for an addictive cookie. I literally couldn’t stop eating them right out of the oven and made myself eat a pear to get the craving out of my mouth. As expected, these cookies got rave reviews from friends, families, co-workers and the birthday girl. And I’m excited to see what else I can add sea salt to in the future.

bubbly baby cake

5 Aug

A few months back, my sister’s best friend, Stephanie, asked me to make her baby shower cake. She already had a recipe picked out for me, which was wonderful, all we had to decide was what shape she wanted for the pink champagne cake she found in a magazine. I have the recipe in a PDF file so I’m not really sure how to post it here, but am willing to share in anyone is interested.

The cake called for a Brut champagne and of course, red food coloring to make it baby pink. I’ve baked with wine in the past, but only adding in a fruit wine for flavor. This time the champagne was a headliner in the recipe – literally. Since she was expecting 40-50 people, we decided I’d obviously have to multiply the recipe in some way. I had Steph choose which pans she wanted me to use and figured out the cake math after we’d picked my square Wilton pans. I ended up multiplying the cake and frosting by 2.5 to fill the pans. And if you’ve ever multiplied frosting, you know that I ended up with WAY too much. It always seems like you’ll run out of frosting but really the surface area of the cake doesn’t change too much when it’s multiplied, especially if you change the shape.

So that’s what the big pink squares ended up looking like. The recipe is interesting because the filling is the base of the frosting, but was much thicker and so it held its own against the cake – which I will add was super moist, but I’m not so sure I loved the flavor, it tasted like Alphabet’s cereal to me. Steph liked it though, so that was the important part, plus she picked it out, so I wouldn’t have been to blame anyway. 🙂

After frosting the entire cake, in two layers because it was really thin frosting, I had to mess around with it to get a pink that I liked along with a thick enough consistency to write with. At this point I also played with the flavoring because I wanted it to be more vanilla-y. I ended up with a pretty pink, perfect for a baby girl.

Everyone loved the cake at the party and I was really happy to finally use my square pan set, I think that is a really fun shape to use for any kid event and I also love to color my cakes, it adds a fun touch without changing anything at all.

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