Taste & Create XI: Sugar and Spice…

June 22, 2008

For a while now, a friend of mine has been unwittingly torturing me with his many tales of waffles for breakfast. I have been a good girl, and have resisted so far (it’s more about resisting the syrup that must go on those waffles than the waffles themselves) but when I saw that one of the recipes my partner, Magpie from je le vous dirais had on her blog was for a Dutch Baby, I knew I had to finally break down.

Now, I have never had a Dutch Baby before, but from what I have heard it is much like pancakes, so I went for it, and I am glad I did cause even if I messed something up, it was well worth it.

Dutch Baby
Source: je le vous dirais

1/2 tablespoon butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the over to 400F. Please empty glass pie plate in oven to preheat.

Mix the eggs, milk, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.

Take the pie plate out of the oven and add the butter. Pour the batter on top and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and/or sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cut into wedges and devour immediately with topping of choice. Enjoy.

This recipe called for way too much better, so I adjusted the numbers for the recipe here. If you try it yourself and it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough to grease the pan, just add a touch more.

This recipe was very tasty, and well worth breaking down….let’s just hope that now i have syrup in the house again I will be able to continue resisting it’s call 🙂


The Finer Things in Life

June 18, 2008

One of the things about being an adult, is that time seems to move so much faster than it did when we were kids. When we’re young, we spend our days imagining the future. Our biggest concern is avoiding the bully at school. We count the days until summer, then spend every moment we possibly can outside, enjoying the sun, and air, the sand at the beach, the trees we can climb…and those we can’t. All the little things that make our lives beautiful. We can’t wait until we grow up and can enjoy everything that’s held back by the adults in our lives.

Then once we become adults, other concerns crowd our minds. We think about bills, our health and that of our loved ones, and taxes. We spend our days, locked in an office, many of us without even a window. We have to force ourselves to eat well, rather than just what we manage to fit in. We crowd every hour of the day we can with the things we feel we have to get done, counting the minutes until we can go to bed. Even our weekends tend to be crowded with errands. And if you’re like me, you even feel guilty for taking a vacation or a single day off.

Thankfully, though we have mostly lost touch with the carefree children we once were, we can still force our selves to spend time on some of the finer things life has to offer. Like the sounds and smells of a summer storm, the taste of good chocolate or wine. Or both.

And of course, the feeling of a good dough in your hands, the smell of it baking and the taste of that first piece. I know not many of you enjoy making bread, and it has unfortunately become one of the things far too many people try to avoid these days, but I realized the other day that it had been way too long since I have made myself any bread, and it was a situation I personally had to remedy.

Crispy Loaf
Slightly adapted from: The Joy Kitchen

2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
4 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites

Mix 2 1/2 cups flour, the yeast, shortening, sugar and water in a bowl, then mix in the salt.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, the fold into the dough. Gradually mix in the remaining flour until the dough is soft but no longer sticky.

Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a greased bowl, grease the top of the dough and cover with saran wrap. Allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled.

Punch down the dough, knead it briefly then let rise again until doubled. Repeat once more, then shape into a loaf. Allow to rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Transfer the loaf to a parchment covered baking sheet, then place in the oven and immediately throw in some ice to steam.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes, turning once half way through. Loaf should register about 200F on a thermometer inserted in. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Enjoy

This loaf was better tasting than anything I could buy, and well worth the time for that smell alone.

I hope you’ll try this, or something else that you’ve been putting off for lack of time. It’s well worth it to do one little thing like this, to make time for yourself and indulge a little.


Treats “Just For”

June 16, 2008

It’s always nice to give someone a treat or a gift “just for” and tends to mean a bit more than when it’s for a holiday or special occasion.

These cupcakes I was originally going to make for a new friend who loves white chocolate, but things kinda fell through, so instead I have made them this weekend, just for 🙂

I wasn’t really happy with the frosting. It was tasty, but nothing great and definitely not worth a “wow,” but the cupcakes themselves are subtle and sweet and most definitely something worth trying again.

White Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: Baking Bites

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 oz white chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 325F. Place liners in cupcake pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time then the melted chocolate and vanilla.

Working in two or three additions, alternate adding in the milk and flour mixture, making sure the flour is last. Mix just until well blended.

Divide batter into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

And just in case you want to try the frosting yourself…

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Source: Magnolia Cookbook

(this recipe is divided cause it would have made way too much…)

3/4 butter
3 tablespoon milk
4 1/2 ounces chocolate melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 sifted powdered sugar

Cream the butter in a medium sized bowl. Add in the milk and blend well. Mix in the chocolate and beat until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for three minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar until you reach the desired taste and consistency. 

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost as desired and sprinkle with more white chocolate. Enjoy.

I was pretty happy with these. Not only did I get to practice with my new decorating tips, but these really are great cupcakes.


Making Milk’s Favorite Cookie

June 8, 2008

Commercials, taxes, politicians….these are unfortunately necessary evils in our lives. Okay, maybe not politicians, but taxes and commercials (or advertisements in general) certainly are. And unfortunately for us, commercials have just been getting more and more annoying (Geico, anyone?)

Thankfully not only do we now have dvr to fast forward through them, but there are a few companies that continue to make charming or entertaining commercials. For example, this oreo commercial.

It makes me smile every time and it does it’s job by making me suddenly want oreos. I’ve been holding on to this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for a while now. I was actually going to save this to make for a friend but decided I needed something just like it this weekend.

I made a tiny mistake making these, but considering it was a mistake I could fix easily with more chocolate, I am not really complaining 🙂

Homemade Oreos
Source: Smitten Kitchen

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375F

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar, then beat in the butter, and the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set on a rack to cool.

4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

6. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk. Enjoy.

Make sure you use vegetable shortening. I used butter flavored, and it made the cream very yellow so I just added a teaspoon of cocoa powder. You can do that anyways if you want more chocolate 🙂

I also highly recommend matching the cookies into pairs before you start adding the cream to any of them, just to make sure you can get them all close. Either that or roll out the dough and cut them all to make sure they’re all even, which I just might do next time.

No matter how you make them, these things really are as good as the original, and definitely worth the effort 🙂


The Dark Side of a Cookie

June 3, 2008

 It’s funny how chocolate can so easily grab peoples attention. Wouldn’t it be fun if more people could be like that? You simply say their name and people instantly want to know more. Sure people like to gossip about celebrities but I mean the real people out there like those of us baking all the time. A little bit of almost everything I bake (especially the cookies) makes its way into the office so whenever I stop one of my co-workers on her way to her desk in the morning she almost always asks “chocolate?!”…I could have been giving her phone messages but somehow she could just smell the chocolate, and these cookies in particular seemed to please her so hopefully they’ll grab your attention too 🙂

I wanted to find the perfect recipe for the last bit of that Amano chocolate I received from the Blake Makes giveaway. My initial plan was to make chocolate and white chocolate truffles, and cover the chocolate ones with the Amano but this new recipe didn’t quite turn out. Don’t worry, I will be making plenty of truffles in the future, just not Amano.

So I had to come up with a different great recipe and decided to peruse my Magnolia cookbook to see what I could find. There are of course tons of excellent recipes that I want to try eventually but I had a bit of a challenge that prevented me from trying most of them. You see, I need to go grocery shopping…badly. Now I know that I could easily go and get a small amount of what I might need for any recipe, but it’s much easier to be a little lazy and much more fun to see what you can do with what you got. Truthfully I am pretty happy I went with this one 🙂

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies
Source: Magnolia Cookbook

1 cup flour
6 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips*

Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cream the butter and shortening with the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes or so for the sugar to dissolve then beat in to egg and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture until well blended then stir in the chocolate chips. *Note: this recipe called for 1/2 cup of chocolate chips but that wasn’t nearly enough so I added in another 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. Set bowl in the fridge for a few minutes to chill. Preheat oven to 350F.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, sprinkle with additional sugar and bake for approximately ten minutes.

Scoop onto a cooling rack and allow to cool. Enjoy 🙂

The dough for these was a little drier than normal but the resulting cookies were really great. I love the sprinkling of sugar on top and plan to use it again in the future 🙂