Friday, March 18, 2011

VLOG: a very berry quite contrary strawberry cake

This is a strawberry cake with strawberry gelatin and strawberry puree covered in a strawberry cream cheese frosting containing real strawberries.  I don't think I missed any opportunity to add more strawberry to this cake.  If this cake sounds unappealing to you, then let me explain first!  When I was given this recipe a couple of weeks ago, I was skeptical because the ingredients listed white cake mix and packaged gelatin.  I only do from scratch baking, but I was told that this cake was utterly magnificent because it's from the Cake Mix Doctor herself.  I had googled this recipe and found the exact same one published on with several mixed reviews.  The only way for me to determine what this cake actually tasted like required for me to do one thing, which was to prepare the cake as directed and analyze it myself.  Granted, I had to put aside my biases against cake mixes and artificial flavorings.

So here it is - the cake needs improvement.  Don't get me wrong, it's good.  However the texture is off. When baked as written, the cake comes out incredibly greasy and very, very moist as if it's too moist for its own good.  It's a pretty dense cake, and the vivid pink color saturated throughout is a tad bit disturbing.  The raw batter smelled wrong (i.e. artificial from the cake mix and gelatin), but the baked cake smelled acceptable.  The frosting failed to hold on its own because it was way too watery.  [See my vlog on simple buttercreams to improve this strawberry frosting recipe!]  I would edit and modify this recipe so that it's more suitable to my preferences.  My vlog details the effects of utilizing gelatin in a cake and what it does to the texture and structure of the cake.  I also included notes on how I would alter the recipe to achieve a fluffy, light, and moist cake.  I didn't extract any ingredient completely from the original recipe in order to maintain the integrity of the cake; my point is not give you an entirely different one.  I only adjusted the amounts of some ingredients, and suggested a different technique toward incorporating them into the batter.  These improvements were made based on my understanding of each ingredient's principle role in the cake.  I myself will be taking this to heart to re-create this recipe again someday, and I'll post a "revisited" blog entry to update you.   

Monday, March 7, 2011

Revisited: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'll never go so far as to tell anybody that such-and-such is the best recipe out there ever made.  Who am I to say that without having tried every single recipe?  So when I vlogged about the ubiquitous chocolate chip cookie in October 2010, I just told you it was a great cookie.  And it still is, and I still follow the blog of the writer of that particular recipe on my google reader.

However, the reason why I am revisiting the triple c's on this blog entry is to tell you about a recipe that is just as amazing.  And here's the kicker, it's EASIER to make.  In my vlog, I demonstrated how to make a chewy salted chocolate chip cookie with the use of a mixer (but I'm sure some of you smarties who recreated the recipe in your own home were able to do without).  In this blog post, I'm telling you that you can bake an equally successful cookie without all the little intricacies of having things at room temperature. Yes, we'll be MELTING the butter.  Yes, we can use COLD eggs.  The amateur culinary baker in me says yes this does go against all the baking laws out there.  Do we not need to have the butter softened and eggs at room temperature for maximum aeration and emulsion?  YES and YES, but the reason why I am "revisiting" is to tell you that this is the lazy man's chocolate chip cookie with the diligent, contentious, and meticulous woman's chocolate chip cookie appearance, flavor, and texture.  In other words, you can half-a$$ it and still get an A!  

This recipe is a Ms. Lollipop original combination of Alton Brown's Chocolate Chip Cookie #10 from his I'm Just Here For More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking and the classic Neiman Marcus Cookie from 500 Cookies: The Only Cookie Compendium You'll Ever Need.  I've made it more "adult" by using Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips and instant coffee powder imported from Germany.  YUM!

These cookies are soft and chewy and stay that way after many days (I can only testify up to 5 days!) in an airtight container.  They taste best warm too, so microwave them for 10 seconds if they're not!  I reduced the amount of butter by nearly half without sacrificing on flavor or texture.  I imagine the cookies would be greasy had I didn't!  And there is no white sugar - all brown for maximum moisture and caramelized taste. There is a subtle hint of coffee but its a match made in heaven with the dark chocolate!  And don't forget to watch my previous post on triple c's for some tips and techniques.