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December 07, 2010

Crème Caramel III

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I actually had time last month to try out another recipe of Crème Caramel aka flan. I've been craving something creamy and with all the cakes I made that used egg whites, I had some egg yolks to use up. This is from Dorie Greenspan’s Cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours - Caramel-Topped Flan.

I made individual flans. Unless I did something wrong, there wasn't enough caramel for the ramekins. I had to make 2 batches and even after that, I thought I could use a little more. The ATK Recipe used a full cup of sugar for the caramel. If I were to make flan again, i'd definitely use Dorie's custard recipe and ATK's caramel. Out of the 3 recipes I've tried, I liked the creamy & silky texture of this recipe. (She uses heavy cream vs. ATK's light cream.)


R E C I P E
s makes one 8″ x 2″ flan or, individually, six 6-oz or seven or eight 4-oz ramekins

For the caramel:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
squirt of fresh lemon juice

For the flan:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Getting ready:
• Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a roasting pan or 9″ x 13″ baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off heat.

• Put a metal 8″x2″ round cake pan – not a nonstick one – in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel. (If you are using individual molds or ramekins, then skip this step.)

To Make the Caramel:
• Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes-remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.

• Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom; set the pan aside.

To Make the Flan:
• Bring the milk and heavy cream just to a boil.

• Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in the vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the hot cream and milk. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.

• Put the caramel-lined cake pan in the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don’t worry if this sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean. (Small, individual molds will take less time – start checking for doneness around the 25-minute mark).

• Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooking rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen it. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

• When ready to serve, once more, run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan–the flan will shimmy out and the caramel sauce will coat the custard.

Storing: Covered with plastic wrap in its baking pan, the flan will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, once unmolded, its best to enjoy it the same day.
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November 15, 2010

Chinese Cocktail Buns 雞尾包

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Before I found out I was pregnant, I set out on a quest to make Chinese-style breakfast buns. My husband loves them and at $1 per piece from a Chinese bakery, I figured it would be much cheaper and tastier if I made them myself. I was so right!

First, was to find the recipe for the buns (aka breads). I went thru a few recipes and found that this recipe for the bread was the best: All Recipes Chinese Sweet Bun Dough

Next was the cocktail bun filling. I can't remember exactly where I found the recipe for the filling but it is:
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup plain flour, sifted
1/3 cup milk powder, sifted (luckily, I had a ton of this from SMS ice cream making!)
3 tb sugar
1/4 cup shredded coconut

And finally, the preparation:

1. Prepare the Sweet Bun Dough as directed.
2. Take one of the 8 small divided balls and roll out with a rolling pin into a flat circle.






3. Place one portion of the Cocktail Bun Filling in the center of dough circle.



4. Gather the outer edges of the dough circle and wrap up the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal in the filling. Roll the sealed dough with your palm on the work surface lightly up and down to shape the dough into a cylindrical shape. Repeat with the other 7 dough balls.

5. Let rise, lightly covered, until double in size on a lightly greased tray (about two hours in a warm room). When ready, brush with eggwash. Then sprinkle a little sesame seeds onto the buns.



6. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Karen on Foodista
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November 08, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

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A few weeks ago, as I was walking to the office, I detoured through Grand Central Station, one of NYC's transit depots, except this one is a beautiful one — I took my wedding photos here. I stopped at Dishes to grab something for breakfast — a donut muffin. I've heard about them but never had one and it cost me a whopping $3! As I ate my muffin at my desk, I knew there had to be blogs about this recipe... and low and behold, of course, there were!

I found two. Both used similar ingredients except one used melted butter and the other used oil. Both were missing some additional cinnamon in the donut, which I found hard to believe. Both recipes stated they yield 10-12 muffins. Guess everyone likes them "mini." In my house we like them slightly larger and I came out with 6 both times!

I actually prefer the recipe using butter. The muffins puffed up a lot nicer.
Here's my recipe for these sinful bites of OMGoodness!

For the Muffins:
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose Flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 whole egg
1/2 cup of whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extra
1/3 cup of unsalted butter, melted

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 and butter and flour a standard muffin tin. Combine the egg, milk and melted butter. Being careful not to add the egg to hot butter and set a side. Add all the dry ingredients to a mixer and give it a quick mix. Add the egg/milk/butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fill the prepared muffin tins with a generous table spoon of batter or until all the batter is evenly distributed among all tweleve muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool on baking sheet.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Dip each muffin in the butter letting the excess butter drip off, then toss in the cinnamon/sugar mixture until completely coated. Repeat.



Karen on Foodista
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October 31, 2010

My Baby is Three!

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My Baby Girl turns Three in a few days and this year, like last year, I combined her birthday party and Halloween. This year, being seven months pregnant, I couldn't exactly DIY everything. I had some friends and family pitch in with the party food.

There was one thing I was determined to make this year... and that was her birthday cake. Last year all over "blog world" were photos of a super epic rainbow cake, courtesy of Whisk Kid. I had a few months before the big day to dwell on the recipe that I was going to use. I decided not to use the recipe Whisk Kid used.


For me, it was a toss up between Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake and Melissa Murphy's white cake, which was a component in her Fluffy Coconut Cake, that we made a few weeks ago. So after making Melissa's white cake, I did a test run and made half a recipe of the Perfect Party Cake. I went with Dorie's cake. To me, it was lighter and fluffier.

For my monstrosity birthday cake, I needed 6-layers at 9" each. What did that mean for me using Dorie's recipe??? Three times the recipe!

I alternated the flavors. For two of the layers, I went with the lemon flavor; another two I went with vanilla; the final two I went with almond. For the food coloring, I went with Wilton Gel -- this set has all the colors you will need (plus brown & pink, which I'm sure I'll do something with in the future). For the ending, I omitted the raspberry and coconut and just used straight vanilla buttercream.

Here are the layers waiting to be frosted:


Here is the cake frosted and decorated:


For the decorations, I used edible sugar sheets.

The Birthday Girl (and everyone else) waiting for the big reveal!



Cut!



The recipe:
Perfect Party Cake From Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”
Makes 12 to 14 servings

Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

(for vanilla cake, omit the lemon zest and sub in vanilla extract; for almond, use almond extract)

Buttercream:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Finishing:
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (My layers were rather thin. I didn't want the cakes to burn so I baked at 325 degrees). Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

2. For the Cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

4. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.

5. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one-third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.

6. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.

7. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
(* This is where you would color the layers).

8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

9. For the Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.

10. Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.

11. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

12. To Assemble the Cake: Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

Storing: The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to 2 days.
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October 17, 2010

::SMS:: Fluffy Coconut Cake with Passion Fruit Filling

| 9 comments
WOW... its been a whopping four months, huh? Apologies to my dear followers & friends but I've been really busy... dealing with pregnancy, a 2 year old, the summer, vacations, work, etc.... you know how it goes... life in general.

But here I am at last... with my SMS pick. (I will tell you that I did make a few of the recipes these four months, just didnt have the time or energy to post about them.)

I picked this recipe quite a long time ago... when I was very, very ambitious. Ambitious, indeed! This recipe requires quite a few steps and ingredients.

First the cake, I made half the recipe and there was enough batter for a small 7-inch cake and a six cupcakes (which I reserved for BabyM, who gobbled them up right away w/o any of the filling or frosting.) I searched all over for passion fruit juice but came up empty handed.

I decided to try vanilla pastry cream for the filling (or in my case, topping). I've been wanting to try to make pastry cream and am so glad I did. This recipe was super simple and very tasty.

Thank you very much to those who baked along with me and my sincerest apologies for my absence. I also apologize for no photos.

Here is the SMS recipe for Fluffy Coconut Cake with Passion Fruit Filling:
Makes one 9-inch cake

FOR THE CAKE
20 tablespoons (2 1/2) sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
9 large egg whites, at room temperature

FOR THE PASSION FRUIT FILLING
1 1/2 cups passion fruit juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar

FOR THE COCONUT CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup sweetened cream of coconut
3 cups sweetened coconut flakes

BEFORE YOU START

Place a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F Butter and flour two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans. Line each with a 9-inch round of parchment paper.

TO MAKE THE CAKE

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. In separate large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.

4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix well after each addition but be careful not to overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on medium-high speed for 10 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

5. In the very clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the very clean whip attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold medium stiff peaks.

6. Using a rubber spatula, briskly fold one-third of the meringue mixture into the batter to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining meringue until just combined.

7. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared cake pans. Use a spatula to level the batter. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched with your finger, and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool for 30 minutes before turning out onto the rack to cool completely.

The baked layers may be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 2 weeks. Do not unwrap before thawing.

TO MAKE THE FRUIT FILLING

1. In a medium skillet, bring the passion fruit juice to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer, and reduce the fruit juice by half, about 10 minutes. (You will have 3/4 cup passion fruit concentrate.) Allow to cool. Stir in the lemon juice.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar until well combined. Whisk the passion fruit concentrate into the egg mixture.

3. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering, not boiling, water. Be sure it is not touching the water. Cook, stirring, until nappante (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon) or
185°F on a candy thermometer, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. Strain the mixture into a bowl set in an ice bath (see Note).

5. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap flush against the surface of the filling (to prevent a skin from forming). Refrigerate until cold before using.

The fruit filling keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

TO MAKE THE FROSTING

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar on low speed, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until fluffy and smooth, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until just combined, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. Decrease the speed to low and add the vanilla and cream of coconut and mix until just combined.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let the frosting come to room temperature and beat in the mixer slightly before using.

TO COMPLETE THE CAKE

1. See How to Assemble a Layer Cake (page 91) for instructions on how to fill and frost a split layer cake.

2. After the cake is frosted, use your hands to help pat the coconut onto the sides and the top of the cake.

Once completed, the layer cake may be stored in a cake saver in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Note: An ice bath is a large bowl filled with two quarts of ice and two cups of water. A smaller bowl containing a hot liquid is set inside the bath in order to help cool down the liquid quickly.
Add more ice as needed.

The foregoing is excerpted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy. All rights reserved. Copyright © Melissa Murphy, 2008.

Here is the recipe for vanilla pastry cream:
Recipe from Bon Appétit February 1998

1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Bring half and half to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk sugar, eggs, egg yolk and flour in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot half and half. Transfer to saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to boil, about 5 minutes. Boil 1 minute. Pour into medium bowl. Stir in vanilla. Press plastic onto surface of pastry cream. Cover; chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)
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June 22, 2010

"Where Have You Been?!?!"

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Holy cow... has it been over a month since my last post? So unlike me, right? Well, I have a good reason for my absence: I've been bouting with MORNING SICKNESS except it hits me right about when I would be baking and blogging.... in the evenings & and on the weekends. That's right, folks! I'm expecting another child! I'm due early January 2011!

So for the past month and a half, I've been hovering in the bathroom or lying in my bed, while at the same time dealing with a 2.5 year old! What joy!

I do have some posts that are queued, except the photos have been sitting in my camera since May! They're coming up soon as I get around to it. I'll be posting & blogging soon. They say its suppose to be better during the second trimester, which is right around the corner.

So fear not, my blogging friends.... i'm coming back!
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May 09, 2010

taking a break

| 3 comments
Some things have come up in the game called life. I'll be taking a few weeks off but dont you worry... I'll be back with some posts soon. To my SMS bakers: I'll still be helping with the administration of our weekly recipes.
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May 02, 2010

::SMS:: Peanut butter truffles

| 14 comments
Today's SMS is brought to you by Mara of Love Your Mother Earth.

Peanut butter & chocolate...what's not to love? This recipe came together in less than 20 minutes. Refrigerate for 2 hours and then scoop. I used my melon baller for less-than-one-tablespoon-sized truffles. I quartered every ingredient of this recipe EXCEPT the peanut butter and then rolled my truffles in powdered sugar.


The verdict: the bittersweet chocolate used in this recipe is powerful. The peanut butter was still NOT enough!


Sorry for such a short post but this weekend, aside from enjoying the summer weather with my toddler, I'll be baking for charity. My girlfriend is running the NYC Marathon in November and at the same time raising money for the fight against cancer. I'm running weekly bake sales and will be donating all the proceeds until she reaches her goal of of $3500. For more information or to donate as well here's the link.
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April 25, 2010

::SMS:: Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie

| 10 comments
Today's SMS recipe was chosen by my great blogger friend, Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, who decided to go out on a limb and pick one of the crazy ones for us to bake. Strawberry — ok. Pie — ok. RHUBARB — what the heck??? I've never had it and lucky for me, I wasnt alone --- many of the other SMS bakers haven't had it either.

First off, was to get some rhubarb. I sent my father cause he has time during the day to run errands for me while I'm working. Three markets in NJ — and he came up with NOTHING. I ended up finding it at Whole Foods, Columbus Circle, NYC. What a great place! The one by my house, doesnt compare to this one. This one has a HUGE food court... I spent almost an hour here the other morning picking out rhubarb, my breakfast AND my lunch!


Time to make the pie. I've had way TOO many mishaps with pie dough to EVER attempt it again. So... don't hate me... but I went the frozen route... and that's the way i'm going to do it forever & ever! For the cobbler topping, we were suppose to cut it up as biscuit rounds. I ended up going the lazy route and plopped the whole thing on top, brushed it with some cream and sprinkled it with some turbinado sugar.


Tracey, as well as some other bakers, had some great tips for making this pie. I baked for 1 hour and 20 minutes and I cut some of the sugar... i didnt want this to be overwhelmingly sweet.

I usually dont place a RIMMED cookie sheet under my pies, but this time I'm so glad I did. The juices from the filling bubbled all over the sheet pan. Some even went over the pan and onto the bottom of my oven, making one big and smoky mess. Good thing the baby and hubs were napping, or else they'd be breathing in the air of my burnt mess. I opened all the windows on this cool, rainy spring afternoon and lit all the candles. Burnt oven aside, this was one delicious pie! Thanks, Tracey for a great choice. Head over to her blog for the recipe and be sure to check out what other bakers came up with.


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April 18, 2010

::SMS:: Sweet Potato Bread

| 18 comments
Hi, there! I'm baaaack! Last weekend I was in beautiful Puerto Rico for a destination wedding. It was so nice to getaway for the weekend with the hubs (without the baby). It was the perfect weekend.

Here's a photo of the wedding cake & cupcakes:

After a two week hiatus, it's time I got back to baking again. Today's SMS recipe was chosen by our founder, Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets, which is where you can find the recipe. I dont know why it's called sweet potato BREAD when it's made in a bundt pan. Shouldn't this be called Sweet Potato Cake?

I made a few adjustments:
- instead of canned sweet potatoes, I roasted 3 fresh ones,
- subbed in 1 cup of whole wheat flour,
- instead of oil, I used apple sauce, and
- used walnuts instead of pecans cause that's what I had.


The result? A super moist and delicious CAKE! This was so easy to put together. I loved it! It didnt even need the glaze (which i totally forgot about!)

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April 04, 2010

No SMS

| 5 comments
My sincere apologies to my fellow SMS Bakers. I'll be missing the next two SMS bake-fests. Today's Easter recipe is Pecan Shortbread Cookies chosen by Lara of The Lab. I had too many commitments this last week and just couldn't squeeze this in. I'll definitely try to make these soon cause I love pecans. Next week's recipe is Chocolate Malted Layer Cake by Nicole of Sweet Tooth. I'll be missing the cake cause I'll be in Puerto Rico for a destination wedding --- which will also double as a mini vacation away from the toddler of terror. Til next time...

Karen
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March 30, 2010

Throwdown Chocolate Chip Cookies

| 3 comments
It's been quite a while since I last made chocolate chip cookies. I have a few recipes ear marked because they have been deemed the "Best Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe, and this was one of them. I'm a fan of Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and after reading some of the reviews of this recipe, I went for this. The recipe can be found here.

I seperated the dough into two batches, throwing toasted walnuts into one and baked for 13 minutes. I baked the ones with no nuts for 12 minutes. The one with the nuts was AMAZING!!! I loved it -- it was a nice & chewy cookie. I might have baked the ones without nuts 1-2 minutes too long because they came out really crunchy -- something I was not looking for.

The one on the right has the walnuts.
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March 28, 2010

::SMS:: Pavlova Peach Melba

| 7 comments
Before joining SMS, I've never heard of pavlova, which according to wikipedia, is:
a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Ánna Pávlova. Colloquially referred to as "pav", it is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner.

Pavlova is made by beating egg whites (and sometimes salt) to a very stiff consistency before folding in sugar, white vinegar, cornstarch, and sometimes vanilla, and slow-baking the mixture similarly to meringue. This makes the outside of the pavlova a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior remains soft and moist. Pavlova is traditionally decorated with a topping of whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Patty of Birding Blossoms and Baking decided that we should make pavlova this Sunday... and so we did. I cut the recipe in half because hubs was NOT going to eat this. I used the ring of a 4" springform pan on my silicone baking sheet as my template because I didnt have anymore parchment paper.


I only had to bake it for about an hour and then I let it cool in the oven for about 45 minutes.


For the fruit: I dont like raspberries so I went with strawberries. I even made the strawberry sauce that's featured in the book on page 210.


I enjoyed this! This was so easy to put together. I'm definitely going to make this again, except I'll make the full recipe for gatherings. For the pavlova recipe, head over to Patty's blog.

Here's the super-easy recipe for Fresh Strawberry Sauce:
Makes about 1 cup sauce
Ingredients:
1 dry pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbs cold water

In a food processor or blender, puree the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth. Strain the berry mixture into a clean bowl and discard the seeds. Stir in additional sugar, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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March 21, 2010

::SMS:: Caramel Apple Pie

| 13 comments
Today's SMS recipe was chosen by Susan of Baking with Susan. Susan has a great blog and I didnt know this til recently, but runs her own baking business... You Go, Susan!

Double-crusted Caramel Apple Pie... the name of it sounds luscious, doesn't it? I LOVE apple pie. I made fried apple pies once and to my dismay, totally cant find the recipe anywhere now! If anyone has an awesome recipe for fried apple pies, please pass it over my way, cause I miss them dearly.

If you've been following me for awhile (and for those of you that know me personally), you know by now that i HATE HATE HATE making a pie crust. Three weeks ago, our Sunday recipe was Sugar Cookies, which was a sweet pie crust recipe cut into cookies. That didnt work! The ONLY time that it did work for me was the chocolate pie crust... but that one looked icky.

And here we are with another pie crust recipe. This one is made with a food processor which actually started out great. Then I popped it into the fridge. And here comes the part where it all goes down the drain -- the rolling. The dough was sticky, then it fell apart... and forget about making it round. I was trying to make it larger than my pie plate... *sigh* it JUST wouldn't work for me. I gave up... tossed it, KAPUT!
Luckily, I keep frozen ones on hand in case of emergencies like this!
I picked up some Pink Lady apples at a farmer's market and couldn't wait to use them here --- the vendor said that pink ladies have the perfect tartness & sweetness for a pie. The caramel sauce came out easy; as did the apples. I added some cinnamon to the apples. Tossed the apples with the sauce and tossed all that into the pie crust.

(WARNING: these photos were taken late at night.)


Covered with another pie crust and baked for one hour and 15 minutes.


THE RESULT: I thought the caramel sauce was TOO sweet. Pink Lady Apples are on the TART side. This was best eaten with ALA MODE! My mom and brother thought the apples were too sour, too. Next time, I'm going to follow the recipe and use granny smiths like Melissa suggested.


Thanks for hosting, Susan! Head over to her blog for the recipe and be sure to check out what other SMS Bakers did.
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March 15, 2010

{MSC} Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

| 9 comments
This month's MSCupcake was chosen by Megan from My Baking Adventures. I love all things lemon and I couldn't wait to bake these! The only thing that turned me off was the meringue frosting. I baked these cupcakes on the same day that I made carrot cupcakes. I made orange cream cheese frosting for those; I made lemon cream cheese frosting for these! Then I adorned them with a lil sugar flower -- what a way to welcome Spring! These were delicious!!!

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March 14, 2010

::SMS:: Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

| 14 comments

Do you have a recipe that you swear by? I do, and it's carrot cake (click here for my recipe & "story"). Julie of A Little Bit of Everything chose this Sunday's Sweet Melissa recipe. I almost opted out of this weekend's bake-along, cause like I said, I have a recipe that I swear by.

Compared to Melissa Murphy's recipe, I use more carrots, cinnamon, nuts, baking soda & baking powder, and LESS sugar.

I made a cake last week and opted for cupcakes this week, using really cute baking cups. I have so many baking cup papers that I can't keep track of where I bought what. The thing I love about these papers is that I pour the batter right into the cups (no pan necessary!) and bake right in it! Cool, right?

Aside from looking really cute, these tasted pretty good and very close to the recipe I use. Eaten without the frosting, there's something missing -- I can't pinpoint it or compare it to my recipe because I havent had a chance to make mine again. I LOVED the orange cream cheese frosting! Thanks, Julie for a great pick! Be sure to see what other SMS bakers did this week!

Come back tomorrow for MORE (MS) cupcakes!
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March 07, 2010

::SMS:: Roasted Pecan Cake

| 10 comments
One of our newest members, Leslie of Lethally Delicious, chose this Sunday's recipe. The long winded name of the recipe says it all — Roasted Pecan Cake with Caramel Orange Marmalade and Burnt Orange Buttercream — sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, sort of.

For the cake:
I halved the recipe, toasted up pecans, process them in a food processor. Beat SIX egg whites into a meringue. I'm so glad I always have some frozen for a time like this. Fold in and bake. Then I made caramel peach marmalade (with some fresh oj). The last step is the Burnt Orange Buttercream. By this time, i was exhausted and just made fresh whipped cream (lightly sweetened) with some orange zest.

Half the recipe made a really cute 2-layer 7-inch cake, that was delicious!

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March 03, 2010

Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Cake

| 9 comments
My family knows me so well. I love shopping at Williams-Sonoma.... and so does my aunt. She got me the Cookie Cake Pan for Christmas and I finally got to use it this past weekend... for a friend's birthday cake. I used the recipe that was on the box, but I'm sure any cake recipe would work. This was a huge hit!

My cake is not as photo perfect as the one on the WS site but I will surely work on it.
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February 28, 2010

::SMS:: Sugar Cookies - fail

| 9 comments
This Sunday's SMS recipe, chosen by Nina of Nina's Cupcakes, was a lil on the odd side to me. It's a pie crust recipe that you can use to make sugar cookies. As you all know by now, i HATE making "dough" recipes, i.e., pie crusts or any recipe that calls for rolling dough. After contemplating for a week and reviewing the P&Q's of SMS, I decided to go ahead and make these. I did what many others suggested: increase the sugar, the zest, and add lemon juice. I also increased the vanilla extract and added some almond extract.

Well... it didnt work out for me. After refrigerating my dough OVERNIGHT, I set out to roll it this morning. It was too wet and sticky and I couldnt get it to roll properly. No matter how much more flour I added to the rolling pin and dough... it just stuck everywhere.

Sorry, Nina, but I tried. I really HATE working with dough now and I have no idea if I'm going to ever get over it... seeing how we're suppose to make a pie in two weeks. BOO!
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February 23, 2010

Breadmaker Cinnamon Rolls

| 4 comments
Last week, I bought a bread machine that was on sale and was so excited that upon receipt of it, I made a loaf of bread at 11pm on a worknight! What I love about the machine is I can throw in all the ingredients, press a button and in three hours I have fresh baked bread.

The next day in the office I printed out a ton of bread recipes and this was one of the first ones I stumbled upon and decided to make -- "Clone of a Cinnabon."

Ingredients:

the dough
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

cinnamon sugar filling
I went with the filling I used when I made Melissa Murphy's Sticky Buns
1 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

the icing
3 ounces package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.

2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.

3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. (Instead of the butter, I brushed on some cream.) Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (I baked at 350 degrees).

4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. (At 350 degrees, I baked for 30 minutes.) While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

I dont know how big these were suppose to be cut but I ended up with a WHOPPING 24 rolls! These were DELICIOUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, and as it's entitled, it tasted JUST like the store-bought cinnabon. Why spend $5 for one when you can make a ton at home!? I'm sure you can do this without a breadmaker machine if you've made breads.
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February 17, 2010

Operation Baking Gals

| 5 comments
Last week as I was reviewing the posts of my fellow SMS Bakers, I came across Julie's post about the "Baking Gals." I've seen Operation Baking Gals on quite a few blogs. I immediately became intrigued and read on and then as if I don't have enough to do in my life, I found myself joining.

Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers from around the country who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic military men and women who are currently deployed in a war zone. The goal is to show our support and send a little bit of home to remind them that we appreciate all that they do for our freedom.

I joined Team "Baking Buddies" and we're baking for Patrick F., the son of a teacher in the Bronx, NYC (this is what caught my attention right away N-Y-C!). He is 23 years old and a PFC in the Marines. Right now he is in Afghanistan, but we don't know exactly where.

I made Snickerdoodles, one of my favorite SMS recipes.

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February 16, 2010

The TAQ Award for Photography

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I just received two awards in two days from two different bloggers. The first is from Susan of Baking by Sue, the TAQ Award for Photography. (I will post about the second award later this afternoon, as I am now sitting in my office and I do have some work.)

Thank you, Susan for the photography award. I am still an amateur in this area but I'm learning every day. I became interested in photography right after my wedding (back in 2006). I bought my Digital SLR and started snapping away. It wasn't until I started baking and blogging about food that my photography kicked up a notch. I started to read more about the manual functions of the camera, aperture, depth of field -- and all that other mumble jumble. Obviously, I havent mastered photography. I take over 100 photos of my food just for that one shot I post online. After its all said and done, I guess what it comes down to is luck? I'm kidding!

On accepting the TAQ award I am to post up some of my photos.

This is one of my first food photos that I fell in love with.



I take other photos, too.

This one was taken at the New York Botanical Gardens.



Cherry Blossoms in 2009



Of course, I have a TON of my daughter.


Next, I am to pick 6 bloggers to pass this award to. All are fellow bloggers and I love their blogs, photos and baking. They are:
1. Eliana of A Chica Bakes
2. Jessica of My Baking Heart
3. Judy of Domestic Goddess
4. Spike of Spike Bakes
5. Mike of Good Things About Living Out West
6. Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen
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February 15, 2010

{MSC} S'mores Cupcakes

| 19 comments
It feels like it's been forever since our last Martha Cupcake feature, hasn't it? February's cupcake-of-the-month — S'mores Cupcakes — was chosen by Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen.

I was never a girl scout. I never went camping. (I never had a s'more!)
I love graham crackers. I love chocolate. (Not a big fan of marshmellows.)

I gave this recipe a try anyway but with a few changes:
  • There was one ingredient in the cupcake that I didnt really feel like buying — graham flour — so I did a little research online and found that wheat flour is a good sub. So instead of the graham flour, I decided to use half wheat flour and half oat flour (since I had both in my pantry).
  • I halved the recipe and came out with 9.

  • Instead of making the marshmellow frosting, I used FLUFF, which i toasted, of course.
My chocolate glaze came out a little on the thin side. After making it, I wish I made a ganache instead. My thoughts on the cupcake? I liked the cupcake. I liked the chocolate. Wasn't too fond of the fluff.




I actually liked the taste of the cupcake -- it was on the "grainy" side maybe cause it was more like a muffin.

Be sure to check out how the rest of the club did with these cupcakes. Come back next month for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.

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February 14, 2010

::SMS:: Easy Chocolate Mousse

| 12 comments
Spike of Spike Bakes chose a wonderful and decadent dessert for us this Sunday's SMS -- Easy Chocolate Mousse.

There's not much to say about this dessert except: it's easy to make and DELICIOUS!


For the recipe, head over to Spike's blog.

Happy Valentine's Day!
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February 07, 2010

::SMS:: Red Velvet (Cup)Cakes

| 20 comments
I made this Sunday's Sweet Melissa recipe, which was chosen by Rosy of Rosy Lips and Lavender, into cupcakes. The recipe can be found on Rosy's blog. I made 1/3 of the recipe and came out with 9 cupcakes.


I've made red velvet a number of times and my favorite recipe is Bobby Flay's. So how did Melissa's compare to Bobby's? Melissa's was just ok... a cake with a slight chocolate flavor. I upped the cinnamon and it didnt matter. Sorry, Melissa -- this wasnt one of of my favorite recipes.

karen on Foodista
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