Tag Archives: dessert

Holy Brown Sugar! (or Soft Brown Sugar Cookies)

I have to start this post by saying, don’t try this dough. If you do, you won’t want to make the cookies, but instead gobble up the entire bowl of deliciousness.

My second note is that my cookies look nothing like the ones in the picture on the blog where I found the recipe. I tried cooking them different times, different tray levels in the oven and different size dough balls and nothing worked. I’m just now wondering if it’s maybe stale baking soda? I’ll have to try. Don’t get me wrong, they are freaking delicious. Like, melt in your mouth, heaven on earth, richly decadent amazing. They just aren’t the prettiest cookies. No beauty awards here. I”m going to try it again though. If I get it right, I’ll let you know.

Soft Brown Sugar Cookies

from Gooseberry Patch Cookbook via Scraps of Life

Cookies:

2/3 c. butter, softened
1-1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sour cream

Frosting:

1/4 c. butter
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. Milk

First, I started by mixing together the softened butter and the brown sugar.

Then, I added the eggs one at a time and beat in between each addition. I also added the vanilla and beat again.

In a separate bowl, I whisked together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Next, I added half the flour and mixed everything together with my hand mixer. I then added the sour cream and mixed again. Finally, I added the rest of the flour and mixed for the last time.

Using a tablespoon measurement, I scooped balls of dough onto parchment paper-covered trays. Clearly, I didn’t leave enough space. I found that you want just barely a tablespoon, any bigger and they expand way too much. Also, the cookies really stuck to the parchment paper once they were done so I’ll spray the paper next time. One final note, the original recipe said bake for 8 minutes. Mine definitely needed 10-11 and even then they were leaning towards the still-squishy side. Once the cookies had cooled for a few minutes, I removed them to wire racks.

For the frosting, I started by melting the butter. You then want to cook it until it just begins to turn brown. I was sort of nervous about this step, but it’s pretty obvious when it begins to brown. You start to see tiny little brown flecks, almost as though someone has sprinkled cinnamon in the butter. At this point, I turned off the heat.

I then added the powdered sugar and mixed until there weren’t any large clumps of butter.

Next, I poured about 4 teaspoons of milk, although I think my frosting could have used another 1/2 teaspoon or so, and stirred. You want it to be spreadable.

Finally, I experimented with the frosting. I tried some cookies with lots and some with little. I think a little dollop is best because the frosting is rich and isn’t shy about the butter. Next time, when the frosting is thinner, I’m going to try doing a super thin layer, rather than blobs. Can I just say, I really hate this picture. It looks like weird eyeballs, eggs, or at worst, breasts…..Ok, I apologize for that rant. Don’t mind my photography skills, try these cookies!

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Confetti Cake with Fudge Frosting

First, I want to apologize for my absence this week. I made a rice pudding which I wanted to write about, but frankly, it was so disappointing and looked so unappealing (there were definitely references to bathroom behavior by my bf. Yes it was that bad looking), that I didn’t even take any final pictures. Maybe, one day when I’m bored, I’ll bring out my half-done photos and discuss it. Plus, I had friends over last weekend and cooked up a storm, so I just wasn’t in the mood to cook this week. (I made my goat cheese and asparagus quiche, the lemonade layer cake, and a green bean recipe. I forgot to take pictures of the green beans though, so I’ll have to make it again and document). Alas, I had nothing to really write about until now.

When I get sad about going to California and leaving my bf (which is often), I do my best to console myself by thinking about the things I am looking forward to having around. First on the list, being close to my family again (no offense guys but being able to attend and watch Giants games on the television is a close second).  Part of my thinking-about-family time includes planning all of the nummies that I want to make for them. (If you haven’t heard of the word nummies, you need to hop on the bandwagon pronto).

 

Fabulous Pink Cake

This cake is my recent obsession.  I have two nieces who I’m particularly fond of and I will finally be around to celebrate their birthdays. Look at the cake below and tell me that doesn’t scream “little girl birthday cake”. I have visions of three little round tiers with pink frosting and edible white pearl accents. Way over the top? Most definitely. But if a little girl birthday isn’t the occasion for over-the-top-ness, I don’t know what is. So my mission: Find a way to create this cake and this frosting and then make it in three small tiers. Due date: December 16. I know I have started a really long time in advance, but I figure one I get the tiers right, it can be recreated for any holiday. Fourth of July with red and blue sprinkles and white frosting: awesome. Halloween cake with orange and black sprinkles: check. Christmas with red and green sprinkles, with white frosting and holly accents: most definitely. I am obsessed, I know.

Step one: make the cake with sprinkles. This was my task last night. I decided, since I have so much time between now and my due date, that I can afford to take it one step at a time and make sure I get them right. (Plus, I didn’t have any powdered sugar, so I couldn’t go with my usual frosting methods and had to try something new).

First, I made the vanilla cake (from a box, gasp! I know, how could I?). But seriously, those box mixes are mighty delicious. I sprinkled a bunch of sprinkles into the batter before I poured it into the pan. Not the best idea. They all sort of sunk to the bottom while the oven finished heating up (my oven has been wacky lately and takes forever to get hot). So next time, I’m going to try sprinkling them on top of the cake once it’s in the pan and then letting them sit for just a minute so they can sink into the batter, but not to the bottom.

These were the only multi-colored sprinkles I had in my pantry, so I used them. They taste good and expand nicely in the cake, but they are too big. So you end up with spots of color and then pieces with no color at all. Maybe, I didn’t use enough, but I don’t think so. Next time, I’m definitely going to try the multi-colored sugar sprinkles (you know, the ones that are nice and tiny). Also, this type of sprinkle has brown sprinkles in them, which is weird once you have brown frosting on the cake. It makes it look like there was some sort of frosting debacle. But, I consider this test run a success because I can make the cake better next time.

I baked the cake at 350 for about 30 minutes until I could insert a toothpick and it came out cleanly.

Next up? Frosting. Once the cake was cooled, I put the sugar, light cream and butter in a sauce pan and brought the mix to a boil was stirring constantly. Then, I turned down the heat to medium and cooked the mix for two minutes (while stirring).

Then, I added the chocolate chips, stirred until smooth, and turned off the heat. I poured the vanilla in, stirred again and let the frosting cool for about ten minutes. The frosting is REALLY rich. They aren’t kidding when they say fudge. I probably would use a little less chocolate chips next time, although the chocolate monster that is my bf would disagree, he loved the frosting.

Once the frosting had cooled a bit (it doesn’t have to be totally cool, just not hot or warm. More lukewarm), I poured it on the cake and let it sit. I was really worried because the frosting was rather runny, but once it cools and hardens, it was perfect.

As you can see from this photo, the sprinkles were all clumped at the bottom, but boy was it delicious!

 

 

Frosting Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream (or light cream)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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I Will Have My (Birthday) Cake and Eat It Too!

Today is my second favorite day of the year, a very close second behind Christmas. I am one of those obnoxious people who makes a huge deal out of their birthday. I guess because there are 4 birthdays in my family in one week (no that’s not a typo, there is one on the 21st, the 22nd, the 24th and the 28th) and my birthday has always fallen on Memorial Day weekend, it just kind of became one big weekend of combined celebration. While I can’t always celebrate with my family on my b-day, I still maintain the weekend approach. I apologize to everyone, I know that’s annoying. This year, I have a wonderful weekend planned, with theater, dinner out with my wonderful bf, brunch with friends and even a massage. But of course, no birthday is complete without a wonderful cake. While I really appreciated my bf’s offer to make the cake, I also wanted it to taste yummy, so I politely declined and insisted that I enjoyed the baking process as well as the eating (which isn’t a lie, I really do).

Here are some highlights of my day before I get to the main attraction. In addition to some wonderful presents, my parents sent me these gorgeous flowers. I also had delicious pancakes and bacon this morning. Probably my favorite breakfast ever.

This picture does a better job of showcasing the incredible lilies. Seriously, these things are gigantic and make the entire apartment smell beyond fantastic. Anyway, I will get to the point…This cake is definitely one of my favorites. It’s an amazing combination of sweet and tart. Even bf who doesn’t like lemon loves it, and I mean loves it. I am the first to admit it’s not the prettiest thing. It won’t be gracing any magazine covers or anything, but when it comes to taste, this little guy hits a home run.

Lemonade Layer Cake

from Cooking Light 

Cake:

  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
  • Cooking spray

Frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

I started by putting the softened butter, lemonade concentrate, lemon peel, sugar and vanilla in a big bowl. Using my hand mixer (while day dreaming about a standing mixer), I combined these ingredients.

Then I added the two whole eggs and the additional two egg whites and mixed together again. A quick tip about separating eggs: you can buy a little do-hickey thing to do it for you, but I find that it doesn’t work very well. Nothing compares to the old tried and true method of pouring the egg into your palm, letting the whites run through your fingers, and GENTLY tossing the yolk back and forth between your hands until all of the whites have fallen into the bowl below.

Next, I put the dry ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour) in a separate bowl and whisked together. The whisking is an important step in this cake for two reasons. 1) It makes sure the baking powder and soda are dispersed evenly and thus the cake rises evenly. 2) It brings air into the dry ingredients resulting in a fluffier, lighter cake.

Then, I added 1/3 of the dry mixture to the big bowl and mixed it together. After it was mixed in, I added 1/2 of the buttermilk and mixed again. I added another 1/3 of the flour, mixed, then the rest of the buttermilk, mixed, and finally the last 1/2 of the flour and mixed again. The resulting batter is on the left. It’s incredibly light and fluffy, which is exactly as it should be!

I poured half of the batter into each greased 9 inch pan. Another tip: after spraying the pan, gift it a sharp smack against the counter. This step will reduce the bubbles in the spray.

I baked both cakes at 350 for 20 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and remove it cleanly. Then, I let the cakes cool in the pan on wire racks for 10 minutes.

After ten minutes, I cut around the sides of the pan with a knife and laid a piece of parchment paper over the top of the pan. Then, I put the rack over the parchment paper (upside down) and flipped all three pieces together so that the pan is upside down on the parchment paper and the rack. With a few taps to the back of the pan with a knife or your palm, the cake should come right out. The parchment paper is helpful when you go to plate the cake. The top is always a little sticky because the cake is so light, so the parchment paper keeps the cake from sticking or sinking into the rack.

The frosting has to be in the fridge for an hour before you spread it on the cake, so I always start while the cakes are baking. First, I combine the cream cheese, lemon peel, vanilla and butter until it is smooth.

Then I added the powdered sugar slowly (about a cup at a time), mix and then add more. This way you don’t end up with powdered sugar all over the kitchen and your clothes. Once the frosting is done, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for an hour.

After the frosting is cooled, place one of the cakes on whatever plate you want. (Keep in mind the cake should stay in the fridge when you are done serving so you want a plate or dish that will fit). Then cover the top of the first layer with frosting. I know it seems like there isn’t enough frosting, but I swear you’ll have extra, so don’t be stingy with this layer.

Then place the second cake on top.

Next, frost the sides of both and the top of the second layer.

Finally, cut in and enjoy!

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Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

If you haven’t noticed, I like cupcakes. A lot. Actually, I just love cake of all kinds, and what’s more convenient that a little individual cake! Therefore, I believe, I can never try enough cupcake recipes. And since I have a huge work event tomorrow, I have a perfect excuse.

The result? AMAZING. This recipe is definitely my favorite cake to date. I don’t know if the frosting is my favorite, I think I’d prefer a cream cheese frosting, but the texture of this one is incredible.

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

From 500 Chocolate Delights

-3 eggs

-¾ cup superfine sugar

-1 ½ cups self-rising flour

-3/4 cups unsalted butter

-1 tsp. vanilla extract

-1 cup unsalted butter, softened

-1 cup powdered sugar

-3 tbsp. Dutch process cocoa powder

-1 tbsp. milk

-sprinkles to decorate

First, I combined the eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla and 3/4 cup butter in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, I beat the mix for a few minutes until the batter is nice and smooth. I then spooned batter into the cupcake liners. The recipe made 16 cupcakes, so if I wanted to make more, I would put less batter in each liner because these puppies rise!

I baked the first tray, which was more full, for 18 minutes at 350 degrees and the second tray for 15. I then cooled the cupcakes on a cooling rack.

For the frosting, I whipped together the other butter, milk, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. I then put the frosting in a bag. As you can see, Mr. Winston was quite interested in the frosting.

I cut a corner off of the bag and piped frosting on to each cupcake. I then topped the frosting with a little pile of sprinkles. I love how colorful and fun they are! I think the sprinkles totally make the cupcake.

Final product! So delicious!


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Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Desserts are usually my thing. They come easily to me and I have a pretty decent ability to tell when recipes are going to be a success. To be honest, I don’t really like shortbread- or at least I’ve never had any that I loved. I’m not sure why I chose to make it. That’s not entirely true. I was being impatient and it seemed the easiest option. It wasn’t fabulous. I think I cooked it a little too much (it wasn’t browning like the recipe said it would). Maybe if I could it less and really liked shortbread it would have been good. So if you are a shortbread fan, by all means, give it a try and let me know!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

From “500 Chocolate Delights”

  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

 

I started by greasing the bottom of the pan with margarine, cutting out the parchment paper to fit the pan, and then adding another layer of margarine.

 

Then I whisked together the flour and cornstarch, and then the sugar as well. Next, I chopped the stick of butter into small pieces and then dumped the butter into the bowl. Using my hands, I mixed together the butter and flour mix. Basically, you pinch the butter pieces as though you are trying to push flour into the butter pieces. Eventually the butter will break up into lots of tiny tiny little pieces. I then added the chocolate chips and kneaded the whole thing together. I intended to take a picture of this step, but I was distracted by my incredibly messy hands. I have long nails, so I hate when anything is under my nails and buttery dough is no exception. Essentially, my tendency towards OCD was acting up, so no picture.

Using a spoon, I then flattened the dough evenly into the pan. (Definitely use a spoon because it will make the top nice and flat. First, I tried a fork because I was lazy and it was sitting on the counter, but it really didn’t work.) Then, using a super sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges.

I baked for about 50 minutes at 325, but I think 45 minutes would make more sense. According to my bf, the shortbread actually got better with time. Maybe staleness is shortbread’s best friend?

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Bread Pudding with Chocolate

I’ve only ever had bread pudding in England. While I absolutely love it there, somehow when I cross the Atlantic ocean, my ingrained prejudice against it rears it’s ugly head. Why is that? Why do Americans seem to think bread pudding is gross? When I proposed making it, my bf said “I’m not the biggest bread pudding fan, but I’ll try it”. Whatever the reason, this dish will change those perceptions. I promise.

I came across this recipe on one of my favorite blogs and since I am woefully in need of recipes, as I mentioned yesterday, I thought I would give it a shot. It’s wonderfully easy and you need very few special ingredients. Also, as desserts go, it’s not so awful. I used skim milk which always helps. Here is the recipe: http://thisweekfordinner.com/2011/01/05/bread-pudding-experiment/

First, I got my pans ready. I buttered the 8 x 8 dish. I then put a towel on the inside of the large glass pyrex and put the smaller dish inside the pyrex, on top of the towel. At this point, I also started my tea kettle going to heat up some water. I’m going to talk more about this dish later, but isn’t my new Le Creuset baking dish gorgeous?

Then I chopped up the bread and some semi-sweet baking chocolate I had left over from my chocolate-filled Russian tea cakes. You could also use raisins or put fresh fruit on top of it when it’s done baking. When cutting up the bread, first I sliced the load into roughly 1 inch slices. Then I cut off the bottom of the slice and cubed the rest. You want about one layer of bread and then just sprinkle the top with chocolate. You won’t need a full loaf of bread.

Then I made the custard stuff. First I mixed together the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. I added a little extra cinnamon because I love it. I mixed it with a hand mixer. Then I added the melted butter and the milk and stirred it together. Next, I poured the liquid over the bread and chocolate. Using my fingers, I pushed down the bread into the liquid until all of the pieces with soaked. Then I put both pans in the oven. Then, I pulled out the shelf in the oven so that I could pour hot water into the pyrex. You want to make sure the water comes up about half way of the 8×8 pan. It’s really important that the water is there so that the custard sets. I must confess, this step gave me a little trouble. Originally, I had the edges of the towel hanging outside of the large pyrex. However, once I added the water, the towel essentially served as a funnel, allowing the water to drip over the sides. So, I had to lift up the 8×8 dish and tuck the corners of the towel into the large pyrex, then return the small dish.

I baked the pudding for 65 minutes at 325. Depending on your pudding it could take a few minutes less or more. You want the custard in the center to be set, but there can still be a little of liquid. I used a fork and moved a piece of bread and was able to see the custard. We let it cool for a few minutes then ate it hot with whipped cream. It’s also great cold. Thank you so much to Jane for the recipe idea! I loved it!

Oh, and my bf is now a bread pudding fan.

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Frozen Chocolate-Peppermint Bùche de Noël

For those of you who read my post yesterday, the leaves at the very end were chocolate leaves we made to accompany thew Buche de Noel. Here is the recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Frozen-Chocolate-Peppermint-Buche-de-Noel-362809

I must confess, I’m really not much of a peppermint person. This cake was my assignment and I probably, well definitely, would not have chosen to make it on my own. It was also a total b*tch. I am no stranger to complicated cakes and don’t shy away from a challenge, but considering I didn’t really like the end product, it was so not worth it. That being said, it’s quite beautiful and if you like peppermint and chocolate, definitely give it a shot.

There were too many steps and I was too stressed to document every step, so you’ll just have to bear with my narrations. Here we go. First, you mix together the dry ingredients for the cake in one small bowl. Then in a big bowl you mix together the wet ingredients. You add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix together. Once they are totally combined, you clean the beaters. You then whip together the egg whites, cream of tartar and the sugar until it is stiff, but not dry. Next, you add the meringue mix basically in thirds. The recipes suggests that you fold the meringue into the cake to make sure it stays fluffy. Fluffy is great, but my cake was actually a bit too fluffy, so some mixing might have been good.

Prior to making the cake mix, I prepared the pan. The recipe calls for a 10 x 15 inch pan. If my cake was a little thinner this size would work great. I cut out parchment for the bottom of the pan, sprayed it and then sprinkled it with cocoa. When the batter was done I poured it into the pan and cooked for 12 minutes.

After 12 minutes of baking, I let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I laid out a clean, smooth towel and sifted more cocoa onto the towel so the cake wouldn’t stick. After the ten minutes, I turned the cake out onto the towel. At this point, I was feeling a little anxious. I need to roll the cake up into a log shape…..without breaking it. I must confess, it was very stressful. Despite my worries, this step of the cake went quite smoothly. I moved the log to a safe place and let it cool completely. (Up until this point was all done the afternoon of Christmas Eve day).

When I returned home from Christmas Eve dinner, I returned to my cake. The recipe then said I need to roll out the cake and put a layer of ice cream on top of the cake. This is where my troubles began. I softened the ice cream too much, so after I sprinkled the crushed candy canes on top of the ice cream and went to roll up the cake, the ice cream squished out of the sides. Additionally, because it was so goupy (for lack of a better word), I couldn’t roll up the cake as many times as it should be. There were many cuss words involved. In a fit of disappointment, I managed to cover the mess with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer.

I returned to my disaster on Christmas day. I sliced off the end of the cake and placed it on one side of the log (to look like a knot). Then, I whipped up some delicious meringue and covered the cake with a thick layer. Using a fork, I made grooves along the top. Then it went back in the freezer for 3 hours.

About 30 minutes before I intended to serve dessert, I took the cake out and using a kitchen torch, burned little marks on the log to make it look like real bark. Back again to the freezer. When it was time to serve, I took out the cake, cut slices, and plated the cake with homemade chocolate sauce, chocolate leaves, mint sprigs and candy canes.

 

This is what the cake looked like after several pieces had been served. As you can see, it didn’t have enough loops in it, but from the outside it looked lovely.

 

 

This is what the fancy plate looked like. It really was quite nice in the end, just not as pretty as the magazine.

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