Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Give it a shot

Well, I tried this Brownie Pudding from Annie's Eats this evening.

Mine was not nearly so gooey as her's, and I haven't the slightest idea why. I followed the recipe and I even under cooked it. I knew something was wrong before I even put it in the oven as her recipe said pour the batter in the dish and my batter was in no way pourable.

It was okay. VERY rich. My husband liked it. I won't be having a second helping. I can't imagine it without a scoop of ice cream.

Give it a go though.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Daring Kitchen - Nanaimo Bars

About a week ago I signed up for Daring Bakers. I won't get to participate until March. I had a bit of trouble finding something I wanted to make this weekend, so I decided to attempt this months Daring bakers' challenge.

Since it wasn't officially a challenge for me, I didn't use their recipe. I am mildly allergic to coconut, so that had to go. I also wanted mine to have a bit of mint. I thought I'd add mint extract to the filling, but my husband thought that might be a bit much. Instead we ditched chocolate chips for the topping and used Andes Mints baking bits.

My base:
1/2c butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbs cocoa powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1.5c graham cracker crumbs
1/2c almonds, chopped

My filling:
1/3c butter
1/4c milk
1 pack vanilla pudding mix
3c powdered sugar

My top:
2tbs butter
Most of a package of Andes Mint baking bits

Base Instructions:
Melt butter in sauce pan
Mix in sugar and cocoa
Let mixture cool
Whisk in egg and vanilla
Add crackers and almonds
Mix well
Spread into 9x9 pan
Chill (I did about 30 minutes, the time it took to clean up from the base)

Filling instructions:
Whip up the butter
Mix in pudding powder and milk
Add powdered sugar (I did a cup at a time into a medium bowl)
Spread over the base evenly
Chill (Maybe 15 minutes for me?)

Topping instructions:
Melt butter and mint pieces in double boiler
Pour and smooth over filling
Back in the fridge

I left it in the fridge for an hour or so.
To cut it up I used a tip I read somewhere, though I don't remember where. Fill a glass with HOT water. Stick two thin knives in the water. Pull one out after about 30 seconds, dry and make a cut, put it back, use second knife, switch, and so on and so forth.

It gave me pretty clean cuts. The only issue was that I probably should have let the dish come to room temp. It was so cold and hard that it got some thin cracks over the top.

Here are the bars after step one. Not really pretty. The layer for this mixture was shiny, not real sticky...easy to press into the dish.

Here it is after layer two. This mixture was a bit rough on my hand mixer. I can't even imagine doing this by hand. Again, very easy to move around...a little hard to smooth out. It wanted to go with the spoon.

And the final layer. Just work the chocolate around as you pour so you don't have to move it much. My recipe called for a cup of chocolate and it seem like barely enough to be the top layer, but once it set up it made for a nice solid layer.

And here is the final product. I think the middle and bottom layers could have stood to set up a bit longer. They wanted to fall apart on me (from each other more than anything).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fabulous! Chocolate Caramel Espresso Chews

Well, I already decided what my baking adventure for this weekend is, but let me tell you what. Had I come across these sooner they would be my weekend treat. They are definitely scheduled for next weekend. I LOVE chewy treats!

Check it out on Culinary in the Desert.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I am jonesing for warm weather!

I am a southern girl. I love warm weather. Driving with the windows down, fresh cut grass, and FRESH FRUIT.

I know that baked fruit is typically a fall treat, but I am making a batch of baked pears as soon as nice ones start showing up in the store.

I think I'll do Riesling Baked Pears
4 ripe pears (Bosc) washed & dried
2 cups Riesling
1/4 cup honey
4 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
4 strips orange zest

1. Preheat oven 400F
2. Cut a SMALL slice off the bottom of the pears so that they stand
3. Arrange pears upright in a baking pan.
4. Whisk together wine and honey and pour over pears
5. Add sticks, leaves, and zest to the pan
6. Roast the pears, basting every 15 minutes
They'll be wrinkled and tender; should take 45 min - 1 hour
7. Transfer to dessert bowls
8. Put wine mix in a pan and boil until thickened
9. Pour over pears

These are great right away or chilled!

Since my husband doesn't like cinnamon I've been looking into options that exclude this ingredient. This simple one does the trick
4 Pears
2 tbs honey
3tbs butter
dash ground ginger
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Peel pears and scoop out bottom core
3. Melt butter
4. Drizzle pears with butter and honey and sprinkle with ginger
5. Bake for about 1 hour; baste occasionally

Sweet kisses

Rice Krispie Kisses! I can't wait to give these a shot. They are just too sweet!

Find out how to make them with Home Making Fun!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Perfect comfort food

Today is a day where comfort food is desperately needed...and this is just about perfect. I'm not a fan of cherries, so I think I'll try just a chocolate chip bread pudding.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Bake or Break featured this Nick Malgieri recipe for Blueberry Crumb cake that looks pretty fantastic. It includes cinnamon, so typically that would put it on a back burner for me, but she says it's pretty simple, so maybe I'll give it a go this weekend...or maybe I'll wait till I can use fresh blueberries since it won't be something I can do often.

The book this came from is on the top of my Amazon wishlist. I'm trying to avoid getting anymore cookbooks until after the big move though. I wish they would put all these fantastic books on the Kindle. Then I wouldn't have to feel badly about ordering something new when we're trying to declutter!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mardi Gras!

Just over a week from Mardi Gras so, of course, it is time for a King Cake!
King Cakes are a traditional Mardi Gras party treat. A small plastic baby jesus is baked into the cake and whoever gets the baby in their piece of cake is in charge of next year's cake/party.

I have to admit, I am not actually fond of King Cake. I typically opt for appropriately colored/decorated cupcakes.


½CupWarm water (110 degrees F.)
2PkgActive dry yeast
½CupSugar (plus 2 tsp)
CupsAll purpose flour, un-sifted
1TspNutmeg, ground or fresh grated
1TspLemon zest
½CupWarm Milk (110 degrees F.)
5EachEgg yolks
1StickButter, (plus 2 Tbsp) softened
1EachEgg and 1 Tbsp milk beaten (egg wash)

1.In a small bowl add the warm water and sprinkle in the yeast with 2 teaspoons of sugar. Allow the yeast and sugar to rest for 5 minutes then mix well. Set the bowl in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until the yeast bubbles and mixture almost doubles in volume.
2.Combine 3½ cups flour with ½ cup sugar, nutmeg and salt, then sift into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon zest.
3.Create a “hole” in the middle of the bowl with the flour mixture on the sides of the bowl. Gently pour in the yeast mixture and the warm milk into the flour mixture. Add the egg yolks and combine the dry ingredients with the wet mixture. When the dough is smooth cut in the stick of butter 1 Tbsp at a time and continue to fold and combine until the dough can be formed into a soft ball shape.
4.Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and knead adding up to another cup of flour in small tablespoon portions at a time. Continue to knead the dough until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 10 minutes or so.
5.Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with 1 Tbsp softened butter. Place the dough ball in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a draft-free place for about 1½ hours, or until the dough doubles in volume. Using a pastry brush coat a large baking sheet pan with 1 Tbsp of butter and set aside.
6.Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Using your fist punch down the dough with a heavy blow. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top and roll the dough into a cylinder or tube shape. (Fill and roll if you're so inclined) Twist the dough to form a curled cylinder and loop it onto the buttered baking sheet pan. Pinch the ends of the dough together to complete the circle.
7.Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and allow to rise again in a draft-free warm location for about 45 minutes or until the dough circle doubles in volume.
8.Brush the top and sides of the dough with the egg wash and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool cake to room temperature on a wire rack. Now is the time to hide the bean or plastic baby.
Colored Sugars
CupsGranulated sugar
¼TspPurple food color
¼TspGreen food color
¼TspYellow food color

1.While the cake is cooling prepare the tinted sugars by taking three separate bowls with ½ cup of sugar in each. Then take the purple food color and slowly drop a dot or two at a time into the sugar. Using a spoon stir to mix and spread the color around until all sugar is tinted. Add more food color as needed. Repeat the process for the green and then the yellow in their own bowls as well. Set the tinted sugars aside.
3CupsPowdered confectioners sugar
¼CupFresh lemon juice, strained
3 to 6TbspWater

1.Combine the sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water in a deep bowl whisking until smooth. If icing is too stiff whisk in 1 tablespoon water at a time until spreadable.
2.Place cooled cake onto a serving platter or heavy cake cardboard and coat the top and sides of the cake with the icing. I like to dip my fingers into the icing and then drizzle it over the top of the cake. While the icing is still fresh immediately sprinkle the tinted sugars in individual rows about 2 to 3 inches wide of the purple, green and gold (yellow).

If preparing in advance allow the icing and tinted sugars to set up a bit then cover with a plastic bag or plastic wrap. Typically a King Cake can last 2-3 days un-refrigerated.

Need a filling?

Cream Cheese and Fruit Filling
1CanCherry, apple or apricot pie filling (16-ounces)
8OuncesCream cheese, softened
2EachEgg yolks
1TspVanilla extract

1.Using a floured roller on a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 30-by-9-inch rectangle as thin as pie crust. Let dough rest.
2.If necessary, drain extra juice from pie filling. Mix the softened cream cheese with the sugar, flour, egg yolks and vanilla. Spoon an inch-wide strip of fruit filling the length of the dough, about 3 inches from the edge. Spoon the cream cheese mixture alongside the fruit, about 3 inches from the edge. Brush the exposed dough with egg wash.
3.Fold or roll one edge of dough over the cream cheese and fruit in jelly roll fashion, and continue to roll the dough to the end, then brush with a little egg wash. Gently place one end of the filled rolled dough onto the buttered baking sheet pan, and then ease the rest of the roll onto the pan, joining the ends to form the loop or circle. Add more egg wash to “glue” the ends together. And then pick up from step 7 in the dough procedures above.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sugary overload

I've spent the day munching on yesterday's chocolate cake...and I'm starting to feel a bit ill. I thought this might be a good opportunity to step away from the sugar and go for something a little sustaining than the desserts I've been posting lately.

These pizza bites look great...and really easy to whip up if you just use store bought pizza dough (cheating, I know!).

Skip on over to Annie Eats for this, and many other great recipes.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake

Confession: I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cake. I prefer brownies...I love how chewy they can be...cake seems almost over the top. However, I've been hearing raves about PW's chocolate sheet cake and decided I should give it a shot.

It is probably the best chocolate cake I've ever had...definitely the best I've ever made. My husband said it's better than anything we've gotten when we've gone out to eat.

It took me maybe an hour to make, total...and that includes baking and making the icing. We ate it right after the icing while still warm...with a nice cold glass of milk...fabulous.

By the way, I left out the pecans. I'm not a fan of nuts or crunchy cake.

Check out the step by step, picture by picture recipe over at The Pioneer Woman!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mint to be!

There are certain combinations that are just so natural that you really can't go wrong with them. Chocolate and mint are one of these. Just looking at these makes me think of Andes mints. I can't wait to give them a shot.

Head on over to My Baking Addiction for the really quite simple recipe.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

This one's for the boy

Hop on over to King Arthur Flour for this interesting looking Creme Brulee Cake. This will make a nice nontraditional birthday cake.

Caffeine and Cinnamon!

Check out Brown Eyed Baker's incredible looking cappuccino cinnamon cake.
It looks fantastic! Cinnamon is probably my favorite ingredient, but my husband hates it (can hardly take the scent of it actually). It will probably be a while before I get to give this a shot (need the house to myself for a while), but I can't wait!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentine's Day treats from Bakerella

If you haven't found your way over to Bakerella yet, you need to. Go ahead and link over there right now. Just go ahead and add her to your feed/reader. She is fabulous. She makes the most incredible looking treats and (for the most part) they are all things even I can do.

So, let's take a look at her Valentine treats from the last two years.

Oreo Kisses

1 package oreo cookies (divided… use cookie including the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
chocolate bark

1. Finely crush all but seven cookies in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and crush into a fine consistency.
2. Stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.
3. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.
4. Then, begin to form the shape of a kiss. Flattening the bottom and forming a point at the top. (Mine ended up about 1.5″ tall)
5. It helps to put the uncoated balls in the freezer for a few minutes to keep the mixture from starting to fall apart when you drop into the melted chocolate.
6. Melt chocolate as directed on package and then dip “kisses” one at a time into chocolate, tap off extra and slide them off spoon onto wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry.
7. Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy! Oh yeah, just eat the extra seven cookies.

1. Handwrite your messages or create them on the computer. Cut out the strips (about 1/4″ tall and however wide you need).
2. Cut up some square sheets of aluminum foil (about 5.5″ square)
3. Place dry kiss in center and start wrapping the foil around the base. Insert message near top and secure it by pressing the foil together at top.

Next is a box of truffles cake.

Believe it or not, this whole beautiful thing is cake! Bakerella has a step by step tutorial on how to make this beautiful treat. I know it wouldn't look as good, but I would probably skip the fondant and use card stock for the bottom and use icing for the sides.

Now, try to tell me that she is not just incredible.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A short introduction

I love to bake, but don't get to do it nearly enough. When I bake it's typically for personal use so I am not usually worried about it being crazy fancy or incredibly decorated. I just want good recipes that make me smile.

I'll feature recipes I find on blogs, in books, or magazines. I might also occasionally feature kitchen products that I particularly like or want. I will always feature a recipe I give a try...whether it turns out well or not. I'll mostly feature sweets, but occasionally a bread or casserole might pop up. We'll see!


M&M’S Recipes & Ideas: Recipes: Red's Ultimate M&M'S Cookies:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce package M&M’S MINIS Milk Chocolate Candies
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Calories 90
Total fat 4.5g
Saturated fat 3g
Trans fat 0g
Cholesterol 15mg
Protein 1g
Total carbohydrate 10g
Sugar 6g
Fiber 0g
Sodium 25mg

Preheat oven to 350F. In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt; blend into butter/sugar mixture. Stir in M&M’S MINIS Milk Chocolate Candies and nuts, if desired. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and centers are still soft. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container.


I used regular M&Ms rather than minis. The cookies turned out really well. A little sweet for my taste, but my husband loved them. They weren't the prettiest cookies as the candy bled a little. They were very soft and have remained soft for three days now (in a sealed container).