Saturday, November 24, 2012

VLOG: chocolate cake two delicious ways

Faux Hostess Chocolate Creme Filled Cupcakes
There's always a simple and easy way to do something and a more laborious and complex way to do the something.  In this case, the something is chocolate cake.  I absolutely adore chocolate cake.  My favorite recipe is a layered chocolate cake with mocha French Mousseline buttercream covered in chocolate oreo cookie crumbs.  In this video blog, I'm discussing two different recipes - Hershey's Black Magic Chocolate Cake and Cooks Illustrated Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake.  Both recipes are delicious and each have their own pros and cons.  I tend to bake Hershey's recipe more often because of its simpicity but the Cooks Illustrated recipe is my go-to for special ocassions.  You cannot go wrong with either recipe!  Take a look at my newest vlog and I hope you bake up these chocolate cakes!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

oreo cookie wafers

New video blogs coming out soon...just in time for some december holiday baking!  In the meantime, here's a recipe I tried out this year...homemade oreo wafer cookies.  I have quite a few recipes on this blog using the cookie as a coating or crust for cakes and pies.  Wouldn't it be easier to make the cookies myself sans the creme filling (since I'm always scraping it off)?  These cookies also freeze well for months after baking!  

The texture of these cookies aren't exactly like a crunchy oreo cookie.  They are crisp on the outside and remarkably chewy and dense on the inside.  But if you stick them in the freezer and eat them frozen, they have a texture more reminiscent of an oreo cookie.  And not to worry, a frozen cookie wafer is not hard like a block of ice so it will be easy to bite into and enjoy without having to defrost the cookie!

I imagine adding a creme filling center sandwiched between two of these oreo wafers will make the cookie softer (due to the extra moisture from the filling) and it will be very similar to whoopie pies, albeit much smaller and less cakey.  

I didn't do much tweaking to the recipe as I wanted to try it out as written from the New York Times and I have to say that the flavor of the cookie wafer is spot on.  However, the texture may need some work.  But I like the softer texture from the homemade version.  The crunchy store bought oreo texture is probably due to the shelf stable ingredients Nabisco uses and I wouldn't doubt the role of presevatives as well.  Overall, this recipe is a keeper.  I've definitely added it to my recipe book.  Should oreos go out of business like our iconic Hostess treats, all won't be lost!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

VLOG: mini cheesecakes

I can't believe I haven't done a post on cheesecakes considering how I've made so many already!  First off, check out my previous post on helpful hints for a successful cheesecake!  Those tips were learned through research and actual trial and error.  With that being said, I don't have much else to say so without further ado, here is my latest video!  Please note that the full and completed recipe is listed below.  Thanks to my supporters for their patience!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

french gougeres

Are you wondering what gougeres are?  They are cheesy pate a choux doughs.  Pate a choux is a french pastry dough that is super easy to make.  How easy you ask?  Well, I made a video blog about it!  Take a look!

To make gougeres, just add cheese to the mixture prior to baking.  The insides won't be hollow as the cream puffs in the video because the cheese acts as an adhesive to create a matrix within the dough.  So it'll look like the photo you see below.  They have pockets of air and taste magnificently cheesy with a crisp shell on the outside.   

For this recipe, I used a combination of gouda and parmesean cheeses which created this wonderful flavor reminiscent of a cheez-it cracker.   Try it out!

Monday, July 30, 2012

blueberry cinnamon swirl bread

Baking bread that stays soft and fluffy is no easy feat.  Neither is creating a continuous cinnamon swirl perfectly centered in a loaf of bread.  That's why baking bread is more of a once-in-a-while type thing rather than an everyday occurrence for me.  I haven't made cinnamon swirl bread in years and I knew I wanted to try it out again.  I went with a modified King Arthur Flour recipe because it featured some key aspects that I was looking for.  First, I wanted to bake a bread with a sweet swirl, not a sweet bread with a sweet swirl.  This recipe contained very little sugar in the bread itself.  And if you are concerned that there is a lot of sugar filling, keep in mind that it perfectly compliments the bread itself.  So in no way will the bread taste as sweet as a dessert when you eat it!  Second, this recipe contained potato flakes.  The use of potatoes produces a softer and moister bread.  This extra moisture is needed for my third reason.  Third, I wanted to use the addition of my Trader Joe's freeze dried blueberries rather than the use of more traditional raisins.  The extra moisture helps to rehydrate the berries without me having to do that beforehand.

Overall, you'll see that my blueberry cinnamon swirl bread did not have a perfect swirl; it's a little squiggly!  And that has to do with technique.  You must be quick with your fingers and roll this bread up nice and tight to get that desired look.  Unfortunately for my uncoordinated self, this will have to do but it still tasted good.  The bread on its own is great straight out of the oven.  But after a day or two, its best toasted and warm with a smidgen of peanut butter, jam, nutella, butter, or anything else you eat toast with in the morning!  Also note that my bread was baked in a 9" x 5" loaf pan, so it was flatter at the top and not as nicely domed as it would have been had I baked it in a smaller loaf pan which I do not have.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

VLOG: a no-bake vanilla mousse pie

Psst!  Wanna know something?  I love dinner parties.  Actually, I like cooking parties better.  The cooking party happens before the dinner party, so the dinner party is sort of like an after party?  Regardless, they are both fun parties.  Whenever you get invited to a cooking/dinner party, don't you always feel like you should bring something?  It's so easy to buy a bottle of wine but if you want to do something just as easy and has that wow factor, you should make this pie and share it!  This pie only has 10 minutes of baking tops!  A little mixing of ingredients is all you need to prepare this pie.    The hardest part is the waiting, of course, because the no-bake filling of this pie (i.e. the mousse) needs ample time in the fridge to set.  Desserts made with love take time, and luckily with this dessert you can do other things with your time while it does its thing in the fridge on its own time!  Watch the vlog and I'll show you how...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

cookies & cream rice krispies

Enough said...

P.S. These treats can last for days upon days when wrapped and sealed in plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator.  But I found people who devoured them before they could last days upon days :)  You can mix this recipe up by using any type of cereal (fruity pebbles/cheerios/etc.) and any type of cookie (barnum animal crackers/nilla wafers/chocolate chip cookies/etc.) and any type of chocolate/chips (butterscotch/dark chocolate/peanut butter/etc).  This recipe is really versatile and super easy to make!

Oreo Rice Krispie Treats with a White Chocolate Oreo Bark
Recipe adapted from Stylish Cuisine
Ingredients for one 9x13 inch pan of treats
6 tbsp unsalted butter
16 oz mini marshmallows
8 cups rice krispies cereal
15 oreo cookies
2 cups (12 oz bag) white chocolate chips

1) Butter or spray a 13 x 9 pan, set aside. 
2) Place oreos in a ziploc bag and crush to itty bitty pieces with a rolling pin.  Set aside.
3) Melt butter in a large non-stick saucepan over medium low heat, swirling butter up along edges of the pan (this helps the marshmallows stick much less). Stir in marshmallows and stir constantly until melted. 
4) Remove from heat and gently stir in rice krispies cereal and two-thirds of the crushed oreos.  Stir until evenly coated.  Pour mixture into greased dish. Using a silicone (or buttered) spatula, press mixture evenly into dish, set aside. 
5) In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Spread melted chocolate evenly over rice krispie treats and immediately (before chocolate hardens) sprinkle with the remaining chopped oreos. Gently press the oreo pieces down with your hands. Cover and refrigerate or let rest on at room temperature until chocolate hardens.
6) After chocolate has cooled, slice into individual servings and wrap with plastic.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

the scarlet cupcake REDUX

I learned that a true velvet cake is essentially a buttermilk cake with a smidgen of cocoa flavoring and a whole bottle of red food coloring.  I originally vlogged/blogged about Hershey's Red Velvet Cake  but I've since found a more exceptional cake.  The process of preparing the cake is the same as shown the the video, but some of the ingredients and the amounts of ingredient are different.  This cake is truly delicious.  The flavor of the buttermilk shines through with a slight hint of cocoa.  And I don't believe food coloring has a distinguishable taste and it does not leave a visible red residue in your mouth or on your tongue and lips.   The texture is fabulous.  The crumb is large resulting in a spongy-looking and airy-tasting cake despite it actually being a dense cake.  Not only that, but each crumb packs a punch because the cake is incredibly moist.  It stays fresh for days in the fridge mainly because this cake utilizes oil as its fat, not butter.  And also because it has an addition of hot water to the batter which is something I just adore about the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate recipe!    

This is a great recipe if you're looking for something a little bit different.  And if the thought of artificial coloring abhors you, feel free to subsitute it with plain water (remember, you can't take away an ingredient without replacing it.  Baking is a science!).  As for a cream cheese frosting to accompany the cake, you can use whatever you wish.  I'm not a fan of frosting, but there are tons of websites out there that can direct you in that area.  It's just basically a combination of cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract.  How much you use of each ingredient depends on your flavor preference.  :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

VLOG: a sugar cookie with all the right textures

Are you a fan of sugar cookies?  It wasn't until this recipe that I became one.  Well, that's not exactly true. It actually wasn't until I modified this recipe that I became a true believer.  My reservations about the sugar cookie was the texture, which is something that's difficult to acheive.  With most cookies, what we get out of the oven is a chewy warm cookie but a day later it becomes a hard crispy cookie.  I think maintaining that chewy texture is essential.  And I was able to find a recipe that could do that (keep the cookie chewy), and I was also able to modify the recipe to create a completely different texture (keep the cookie cakey like a Lofthouse cookie or a tea cake, while still maintaining its outer cookie crisp).

Why this recipe works: it contains 68% unsaturated fat to 32% saturated fat = perfect ratio for a chewy cookie.  As I stated in the vlog, I melt the butter so the sugar cookie dough could easily be mixed together with a spoon—it gets rid of the need for a mixer and whisking.  I am replacing a portion of the melted butter with vegetable oil to ensure a chewy cookie without affecting flavor. And by incorporating an unusual addition, the cream cheese, into the cookie dough it make will these cookies tender, while the tang of the cream cheese makes for a rich and not-too-sweet cookie.  I play around with these fat ratios and developed a cakey cookie that tastes the same but with the desired texture.  You'll find the two recipes after the jump.

These cookies would make great snickerdoodles if you roll the dough in equal parts cinnamon and graulated sugar before baking!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

coffee muffins that pack a punch

Photo Credit: Cooking Light Magazine/Johnny Autry
These muffins are so stimulating because they contain so much caffeine in them!  Each muffin is about 200 calories.  How do I know this?  It's because this is a Cooking Light recipe that I found in my January/February 2012 magazine and the nutrition facts are listed.  If you read the reviews for this recipe, others will tell you about all the wonderful things about this recipe.  My two cents are that these muffins will overbake and dry out easily so don't overbake them!  I learned my lesson; these will go into the oven for 14 minutes and no longer than that.  They will finish baking from the residual heat.  These muffins are soft and tender but sturdy enough to be classified as a muffin and not a cupcake.  What I love about this recipe is that I increased the instant coffee granules and the vanilla extract both by an additional 1.5 teaspoon (see the modified recipe below) and the flavor was beyond amazing.  Because the coffee is so strong, the muffins are not overly sweet!  I made the recipe with and without chocolate chips and I think the ones sans chocolate are fantastic!  That's probably because I don't eat chocolate for breakfast :)  I also strongly recommend using a food scale to measure out the flour because the approximation listed for 9 ounces of flour is supposedly equivalent to 2 cups of flour.  But the density of your flour is dependent on the humidity in the environment in which your flour is stored.  For me, it turned out that 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour weighed 9 ounces and not 2 cups worth as the original recipe stated.  The batter for this muffin recipe will be very thick too!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

not your typical PB cookie

This cookie has a little bit of everything.  Usually foods that have a little bit of everything either taste magically delicious or inevitably horrendous.  You see, I personally try not to add everything but the kitchen sink into a product because then I end up having several competing flavors that either cancel each other out or are duking it out on my tastebuds.  But this cookie is just Goldilocks would say.  It contains dark chocolate peanut butter from the one and only Peanut Butter & Company.  The chocolate and the peanut butter flavors sing in harmony.  And because this is primarily a peanut butter cookie, I up-ed the ante by chocking in some peanut butter m&ms.  And lastly to provide a subtle contrast in texture and to "healthify" it a tad, I've included some cooking oats which provide a nice nutty addition that also lends another additional chewy capability/quality to it.  I tend to add oats to a lot of my baked goodies only to regret it, but not this time!

The final result is a chewy bakery style cookie (i.e. fist sized cookies that aren't dry).  The kind that is chewy soft yet sturdy dense.  It tastes more peanut butter than chocolate.  The crumb is moist like that of a perfect brownie, but don't misunderstand - this is not a cake-like cookie at all.  The crunch comes from the outer edges and the outer crisp shell from the m&ms.  Overall, I declare this cookie a delight.  I've made this recipe several times and tweaked the recipe each time.  This recipe that I'm posting is the one I'm sticking with for future dark chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cravings....