Tuesday, September 28, 2010

RLB's Flaky Scones

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a huge carb fan.  Carbs and fat.  They're best when combined, like in these incredibly flaky, wonderful scones by my beloved RLB.
The other day my mom bought The Bread Bible.  Amazing recipes, amazing instructions (as always).  Being eager and impatient, I didn't want to pick a recipe that required any sort of prep work, or waiting 20+ hours to be able to actually bake the glutenous wonders.  I settled on her recipe for flaky scones, and they, like all things RLB, did not disappoint.  I ate them with Devonshire cream and jam and nearly died from the awesome.

I substituted raisins for currants, and used half-and-half instead of heavy (whipping, for my fellow Canadians) cream.  They were rich and soft, without being too heavy.  If you end up making them with a heavier cream, please let me know how much more amazing they turn out!
But there is a problem with near ownership of The Bread Bible: I have a favourite bread store, Uprising Breads.  Their bread is amazing, and they give my kid cookies, so I feel a little guilty making my own bread behind their backs.  Of course, there's always the chance I'll really suck at baking bread.  It might fit more into the "cooking" category-- something I'm hopelessly bad at.  (Seriously. If anyone wants to rise to the challenge of teaching me how to cook, please let me know...).

I will keep you all posted of my bread baking successes and failures.  But for now, let there be scones:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Horse Cake

This adorable horse-themed cake was made for an even more adorable little girl, Ashlyn, for her 4th birthday!  Happy birthday, Ashlyn!

I did a complete redesign of this cake at the 11th hour.  I was originally going to do 2-dimensional characters on top, but quickly realized I can sculpt a lot better than I can draw.  A lot.  After 5 attempts at drawing hay onto gumpaste, I gave up, made the design 3d, and had the hay and horse completed in less than 20 minutes.
I think he looks a bit like Elvis.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vancouver Baker's Market Reminder

Officially one week until the Vancouver Baker's Market!  It's going to be really fun, with lots of talented vendors and yummy baking.

I'll be there for the first day, Saturday October 2nd (as well as a couple of days in Nov/Dec) from 11am-3pm.  If you're in the lower mainland, please stop by to say hello, try some samples, and buy some treats!  I'd love to see you all there.

Oh, and did I mention admission is free?  And there will be samples and prizes?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies; or, I should really be getting to class about now...

These mocha chocolate chip cookies were my back-on-the-horse cookies after cremating that batch of M&M cookies.  I'm proud to say that they were baked without issue. (I have a witness).

I don't drink coffee anymore.  This is practically sacrilegious considering most of my jobs have been as a barista.  Sometime last year-- and I'm sure this is a result of consuming grotesque and unhealthy amounts up at school in particularly heinous semesters of yore-- my stomach revolted and decided to try to kill me whenever I had a cup.  I'm not one to engage in power struggles, especially not with my intestines, so I switched to tea.  Tea and my stomach are great friends... for now.

But I could never completely give up the bad shit when it came to baking.  My cupboard now contains several types of tea, and some instant coffee.   Chocolate loves instant coffee, and I love them together.  So how could I resist making some mocha chocolate chip cookies when I stumbled across the recipe?  I couldn't, because I can't really resist much, especially when it comes to dessert.

So be like me and save your will power for fast food, smoking, hookers, or whatever your vice, because these cookies are worth giving in to.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pretzel M&M Cookies; or, how to almost destroy your kitchen and get a good workout in the process

M&M cookies with the wonderfully salty, crunchy bonus of pretzels!
I've heard stories of different types of M&M's available around the world: coconut, cherry, strawberry peanut butter, mint, and the list goes on.  But I had never had any or really seen any other than the standard peanut, peanut butter, and milk chocolate varieties.  Then the other day there was Pretzel.  Pretzel M&Ms!  I had heard about them, seen a commercial or two that peaked my hopes, but there they were in the flesh.  I was really-- and probably a bit pathetically-- excited to bake them into cookies.
But these cookies... they were almost the demise of my kitchen.  Within 5 minutes of baking the second batch my (very loud) smoke alarm went off.  In the quintessential turkey-burning-in-a-movie scene, smoke was coming out of my oven.  They had burned to charred little black bits in that little time.  How?!

A friend on facebook informs me this is most likely because of the fat melting down and leaving floury sugary goodness on the top.  The internet is a wonderful place, non?  So many useful people...

This is a very likely scenario, as the dough was really, really soft and there was actually a moment where I thought, "Wow, this is very soft and I should probably put it in the fridge!".  But I didn't, because I was lazy and didn't want to make room in the fridge, or have to keep opening the door to snack on the dough.  

Moral of my kitchen terror: Refridgerate the dough, at least for a little.  And if you don't,  be prepared to have sore arms from frantically fanning your smoke detector for an extended period of time while your kid freaks out about how you're both going to die in a fire.
The cookies that didn't combust were delightful, however.  The pretzel M&M's provided both a satisfying crunchy texture, and bit of saltiness to combat the sweetness of the cookie.  Definitely worth making another time! 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Banana Crumb Muffins

Meet my new favourite breakfast:
I confess: Most of the time, I buy bananas with the intention of letting them become over-ripe.  I love bananas, but I really only eat them at a very specific point in their ripening (mainly yellow with a hint of green, or when the hint of green just leaves) because I cannot handle the texture otherwise.  Do not like the slick mushiness.  But the beauty of bananas is that I can be choosy with the ones I want to eat, wait for the rest to turn brownish, and then bake them into something beautiful and delicious.  A banana is never wasted.

But the other day the abundance of frozen bananas in my freezer was reaching its peak, so I posted on the ol' fb asking for banana muffin recipes.  Oddly enough, the same recipe was sent to me by a few people, pretty much solidifying my decision.
It was a good decision, because these muffins are delicious.  Although, at this point, I'm pretty convinced that crumb topping makes anything delicious.  I made these almost according to the recipe, but I reduced the sugar by about 1/4 cup-- honestly think it could be reduced even more.  I also added cherries, on request of the little one.  These are definitely an excellent go-to banana muffin, and one that I think would lend itself well to additions and variations.

The bananas are stacking up again in my freezer-- what's your favourite banana recipe?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Marshmallow Brownies

Chocolate + marshmallows = The most incredible marshmallow brownies ever.
I stumbled upon this idea when I was searching for a low-fat healthy treat to make over the weekend.  It always starts out this way.  I want to bake something, but feel guilty about the fat and sugar content.  So I search for low-fat healthier recipes, then see something so delightfully terrible for me I have to make it. Really, I should just give up the pretense of finding something healthy.  It seems to result in me consuming the opposite.  But regardless of the artery-clogging, ass-widening ingredients of these brownies, they are delicious.  I regret nothing.
This brownie recipe is similar to my favourite chocolate brownie (thanks, Angela-- still love it!), only it uses less cocoa and an extra egg.  I changed a few things in the recipe, including reducing the amount of sugar.  I also didn't trust the lack of cocoa, since my normal recipe uses 3/4 cup.  So I added 1/2 cup instead of 1/4 cup, but for the most part I went along hoping it would all work out in the end.  It obviously did, and the lesser amount of cocoa amounted to an almost milk chocolate tasting brownie, which was a lovely complement to the sweetness of the marshmallow.  I opted not to add the icing on top, because I found them sweet enough without. (And I didn't have any icing sugar).  

When I make these again, I think I'll try them with my usual brownie recipe.  Although I enjoyed them immensely, as far as I'm concerned, the more chocolate the merrier.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Waffle Cookies

The crappy kitchen chronicles continue today with Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Waffle Cookies.
These let me down.  A lot.  And worse yet, I'm not even really sure why they sucked so much.  In theory, they sounded so good.  Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are fantastic!  Waffles are almost equally as fantastic!

Everything was extremely promising right up until I put one into my mouth.  They smelled good, they looked good, they tasted horrific.  Like dry, crusty waffles.  I think this problem comes from being cooked in a waffle maker.  One of the best parts of fresh, oven baked cookies is how soft, moist, and chewy they are.  Being baked in a waffle iron destroys the yummy soft centre.  They were so unappealing, I stopped eating them after one bite.  That means something, dammit.

I'm not even going to share the recipe, to spare you the horror.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

I know I said I was going to take the next few posts to share kitchen monsters with all of you, but instead I have to share something inextricably awesome.  I'm sure, to some, they are monsters.  But to others, like me, they are a beautiful, holy creation.

Peanut Butter Bacon cookies.  Yes-- bacon.  In a cookie.

I had been curious about this PB recipe before.  It has no flour, and basically only 4 ingredients (PB, sugar, egg, and baking soda).  When I saw it combined with bacon, I was sold.  I think the hardest part about making these was cooking enough bacon, because I kept eating it all.  The second hardest part was eating them after they were cooked, because I was so sick from eating all the bacon.  

But they are surprisingly awesome!  (This has been verified by third parties, too.)  The bacon adds an interesting smokey taste to the peanut butter.  The only downside is the weirdness of having bacon stuck in your teeth after eating a cookie.  Yeah...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A tale of two puddings

I confess: the flowery wedding cupcakes were something beautiful in a time when things definitely weren't (aren't?).  They turned out lovely, for people in love, in the middle of a series of personal and baking-related flops.  The next few posts will be dedicated to sharing these little kitchen monsters with you.  

Like this one:

Which I fortunately corrected by making this one:

The last time I made something that turned out truly awful was with a sad little batch of brownies.  Everything went wrong.  I was distracted. I was stupid.  The same thing happened this week, but with self-saucing pudding cake.

My thought process went something like this: "Oh hey-- life blows.  I'll make a chocolate pudding cake because I ate them growing up and they were awesome and how could this go wrong?"  Well, let me count the ways:

1.  I don't, unless in a very specific mood as I was when I made the mexican chocolate tofu pudding, like cinnamon to fuck around with my chocolate.  So the recipe had that stacked against it.  (Yes, I realize I could have easily left it out).

2.  I misread the recipe.  It called for 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa plus 1/4, which (not so) clearly meant that the last 1/4 should be added to the sauce portion.  So I essentially doubled the cocoa in the cake. This normally might be awesome, but it kind of tasted like shit anyhow, so it just really turned out like tar.

3. I underbaked it.  This is a problem with all self-saucing pudding cake attempts: I never know when the fucking thing is done.  There always seems to be some sloppy shit in the middle, a blob that just can't make up its mind: pudding or cake? pudding or cake?  So I decided for it, took it out of the oven, then it realized it actually wanted to be cake after all, I tried to bake it more, and then gave up and ate it marsh-like.

Overall, you can see that it turned out like a sad little sticky tar pit.  

So I decided to try again, but this time with my favourite recipe from my mom.  The cake was fluffy and perfectly cooked.  The sauce was the delicious chocolate I knew and loved.  All was right in the world.  See?

To be fair, I don't blame this recipe (entirely), I blame me.  So if you want to try it and not be a dumbass in the process, please let me know how it turns out.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Summer is pretty much officially over here.  Both school and the rain have started, and the days are getting shorter.  But that doesn't mean saying goodbye to ice cream.   
I had dreams of making mint chocolate brownie ice cream, but time was short and desperation was high, so chocolate chips it was.  Unlike when I made vanilla ice cream last time, I didn't use heavy cream in this batch.  It wasn't quite as creamy, but was still delicious.  No one complained.
I'm on the search for some unique and yummy ice cream flavours to try out this fall, so if you have some please send them my way!


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