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January 31, 2010

::SMS:: Two weeks in a row....

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I've missed two bake alongs in a row.
*bows head down in shame*

Forgive me, fellow SMS Bakers but i've been swamped with work and when I'm not working -- I'm still working.

I'll be back... hopefully, next week.
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January 17, 2010

::SMS:: Orange Pecan Sour Cream Pound Cake

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This is going to be a really short post:
I've been super busy with work lately (working at nights, too) that I hardly have time to blog, but I still find time to bake on Sundays and when I have some breathing room, I take some time to go thru my reader and comment on your blogs. I apologize if I havent commented on your blogs lately, but eventually, I'll come around to it.

I actually made these a few weeks ago and have made them a few times after that. These are that good! I used an orange instead of a lemon and pecans instead of walnuts cause that's what I had. Please head over to Raeann's blog Basically, Baby Boots for the recipe!
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January 15, 2010

{MSC} Coconut Cupcakes

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The January/February issue Food Network Magazine featured "candy cupcakes" -- cupcakes that taste like candy bars, i.e., Snickers, Crunch Bar, Chocolate PB Cups, Peppermint Patties, and Almond Joy! When I saw the coconut cupcake recipe plus the chocolate & coconut topping, I knew i had to do that for this month's MSCupcake Recipe.

I loved Martha's cupcake recipe! It was light, airy, moist and so coconutty! I loved Food Network's topping -- it tasted exactly like candy bar.

The Topping:
2 cups whole milk
1 14-ounce package shredded coconut
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Combine the milk, coconut, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the milk is absorbed and the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

The Glaze:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Put the chocolate, corn syrup, butter and 3 tablespoons hot water in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on 50 percent power until the chocolate melts, about 2 minutes. Whisk to combine. Keep warm.

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January 10, 2010

::SMS:: Chocolate Pie Crust

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This week's SMS recipe, which also gave us a chance to use an additional recipe outside of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, was chosen by Donna of L’Amour de Tarte. There are so many great fillings that can be made with a chocolate pie crust... I decided to make a chocolate cream pie because it's on My 100 list (#54).

The Pie Crust -- Part One (Recipe can be found on Donna's blog.)
I hate making pie crusts. I've never had ANY luck with making a crust and I've tried quite a few times. Whenever I need to make a pie, I just buy those frozen pie crusts. When this recipe selection came along, I guess it was time to bite the bullet and try again. *sigh* I was NOT optimistic. In her cookbook, Melissa recommends a pastry cutter. She writes that if you don't own one, go buy one because they're inexpensive. I'm sure they are... but... like i said, I hate making pie crusts, so why bother, right? Shhhhhh.... don't tell Melissa... but I used a large serving fork. *gasp!* I KNOW!

I placed the butter, shortening and water into the freezer about 20 minutes before I started making the dough because Melissa stresses that very cold ingredients will help making a pie crust and I have to say the dough came together pretty easily. I used 1/4 cup of sugar, instead of the 2 tablespoons because a few of the bakers who made this early said it was bland. Then I popped it into the fridge and started the chocolate filling.

The Chocolate Filling - I went with a King Arthur Flour recipe.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream, divided
2 cups milk

  • Place the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract in a 2-quart mixing bowl; set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan away from heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt. Whisk in 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the cream. Whisk in the egg yolks.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the remaining cream and milk.
  • Bring to a boil, whisking constantly as the mixture thickens; boil for 1 minute.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the reserved chocolate and butter.
  • Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  • Pass the filling through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps.
  • Place plastic wrap or buttered parchment paper on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and chill thoroughly.

The Pie Crust -- Part Two
This has to be the main reason why I hate making pie crusts... the rolling. This time around I learned from my mistakes and rolled the dough in between two sheets of waxed paper, with a lot of flour tossed around everywhere. It eventually came out... wasn't exactly round and definitely was not that much larger than my 9-inch pie plate. Crimping? Pffft.... NOT! I tucked in any overhang. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and Voila!


Next, pour the chilled filling into the cooled, baked pie crust. Level the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.


The Topping - I went with King Arthur Flour's Meringue topping:
3 large egg whites (reserved from filling)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
  • Place the egg whites in a clean bowl with clean beaters. Add the pinch of salt.
  • In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  • Whip the egg whites until they turn white and the whisk begins to leave tracks in the bowl. Slowly add the hot sugar syrup, and continue beating until the whites make stiff peaks.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Pipe or spoon the meringue over the top of the filled, chilled pie, making sure you cover the filling completely.
  • Place the pie in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the top of the meringue is golden brown. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until ready to serve



I loved the filling but next time instead of the meringue, i'm just going to go with lightly sweetened whipped cream. (To me, there wasnt much taste to the meringue -- maybe there isnt suppose to be?) The chocolate filling was delicious! Like chocolate pudding and so easy to make!

The pie crust? I dont know. So much work for something that I couldnt really taste. I think the strong chocolate flavor from the filling masked the pie crust. I tasted the pie crust on its own and didnt really taste much.

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January 03, 2010

::SMS:: Chocolate Creme Caramels

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Happy New Year!!!

Sorry for not blogging for over two weeks .... i was super-busy when Christmas came around.... but I'm back, and we're back! To start off the New Year, Jeanette of The Whimsical Cupcake chose Chocolate Creme Caramels. At first, I was going to make half the recipe. I changed my mind on Christmas eve and went for the full recipe -- to bring as a treat to my aunt's Christmas Day dinner.

I'm blogging about this about a week later and if i remember correctly:
I used a medium sized sauce pan because I wasn't paying attention to the recipe when it read USE A LARGE POT. When the thermometer hit 220 degrees that's when things got a little scary in my kitchen: the caramel boiled over FAST, and when I say boiled over -- I mean out of the pot and onto the burner -- sugar everywhere! I immediately turned the flame to low. I then played with the heat from low to medium to high back to medium and then to low again... going from 220 degrees to 248 degrees took forever (about 30 minutes)! Eventually i got to 248 degrees and turned off the heat and poured the mixture into my 10" square cake pan and let it set (overnight).

On Christmas morning, after M opened up all her presents I whipped out my ruler and measured out 1x1 inch squares. After cutting and eating, I had about 8 dozen of these lil beauties. I used mini cupcake wrappers and placed them in lil treat boxes (2 dozen per box). These were a hit at dinner and at the office (I had so many i had to distribute them everywhere).

Thanks, Jeanette for a great pick! Next time, I'll either make half the recipe or use a larger pot!

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