Monday, March 29, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies. Or, I miss having a Kitchen Aid Mixer.

I am a lazy baker. And I have been spoiled. Because this:

is archaic. I was using the wrong attachments, but whatever. My arm got tired. I had to stand there the whole time I was mixing something. Hardly a labour of love.

I miss having a Kitchen Aid mixer. So I will be stalking Sears for a good sale; let me know if you see one, too.

But amidst all my griping, I did bake some of my all-time favourite chocolate chip cookies.

I confess: I used to make the recipe on the back of the Chipits package. They were okay. Acceptable, but not delicious. Then I found this recipe here and I can't make any other chocolate chip cookies. They're chewy with a bit of crunch, have a good ratio of chocolate chip to cookie, and just a hint of caramel. The recipe calls for all semi-sweet chocolate, but I prefer a mix of the semi-sweet and milk. I also find they don't need to bake the whole 15-17 minutes. 13-15 is good for my oven.

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. When it's time, Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  4. Drop cookie dough onto the baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Louis Vuitton Purse Cake

A couple of summers ago, my brother's girlfriend's birthday was approaching, and somehow I got the idea in my head that I was going to make her a cake that looked like a Louis Vuitton purse.

Why not, right?

I was pretty fresh into baking at this point (maybe 6 months?) so the idea was pretty ridiculous. I don't think I even knew what gumpaste was, although now it's hard to know if there was ever a time.

For whatever absurd reason, the birthday girl (Tamara) doesn't like chocolate. In hindsight, I would have never made the brown monogram bag without chocolate icing. I could have opted to do the white bag, but no, I wanted to make the brown one. So I made regular fondant and used a whole fracking bottle of food colouring to get the shade right. (This is also the day I learned to use gloves while working with dye.)

The cake itself was vanilla, with a layer of maple buttercream. Admittedly, the flavour combo was pretty amazing, even sans chocolate (I know-- blasphemous, right?).

There were lots of swears, but in a few hours the cake really took shape. I was literally brushing on the gold monogram logo minutes before she walked in the door and saw it.

And thus was born Tamara's LV purse cake!

But the bottom line? The next person who gets this cake better like chocolate.
(And not end up being crazy)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Brianna's Birthday Cupcakes

It was my friend's daughter's 4th birthday over the weekend (Happy Birthday, Brianna!) so, as usual, I jumped at the chance to bake something.

ladybug cupcakes
The birthday girl was having a critter party (which was super fun!) and wanted ladybugs and flowers for her cupcakes. Four-year-olds are pretty easy to please, so the design was pretty simple.

ladybug gumpaste cupcakes
I've been dying to make gumpaste ladybugs lately, and I was pretty surprised with how easy they were to make. I just a flattened circle of red gumpaste, and imprinted a line for wing definition on the back. Then I attached a big black circle for the face and pressed little black dots onto the back. The eyes were white gumpaste dots with black dots drawn on with some edible markers that I had left over from a very unfortunate and unsuccessful cake pop incident (never again).

For the cupcakes, I used Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate Cupcake. They're my go-to chocolate recipe these days-- moist, chocolately, and really versatile. And you can't beat anything that's made in just one bowl. The only downside is that the batter is a bit runny, so if you're like me it will end up splattered and dripped all over the pan and counter. And the floor. And for some reason the oil bottle across the counter. The icing is vanilla buttercream.

ladybug gumpaste cupcakes

But they turned out pretty cute, and they definitely had the kids bouncing off the walls for the afternoon!


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