Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Absence

I didn't forget about this blog but I have been busy figuring out life and traveling. I recently discovered that I don't think I want baking as a career but as a hobby I can always rely on for comfort. Fall is my favorite time of year, when I love baking the most because the ingredients I love using the most are fresh this time of year.
My sweet life from the last time I posted:
In light of the recent election and the outcome, which I am still estatic about

In St. Louis I visited 2 bakeries:
The Cupcakery (Vanilla, Peanut Butter Chocolate, Pumpkin, Coconut)

Jilly's Cupcakes (Pumpkin & Key lime)

Monday, July 21, 2008

cure to the blues: gooey chocolate chip cookies

These are my favorite cookies and the best recipe ever. I got it from my friend Michelle so I call them Michelle's chocolate chip cookies and they always make me happy. I have so many memories associated with chocolate chip cookies. Me and my friends (Liz and Michelle, hey girls) have spent many nights in making chocolate chip cookies, listening to music, and being funny. My favorite memory had to be when we were all dancing to Jonas Brothers a few years ago or maybe it was last year, whenever it was time flies (haha oh jonas), in Michelle's kitchen. This was pre disney ate their souls days. Fun times. Anyways, the point is that chocolate chip cookies are my cure to getting rid of the blues or I guess for me, anxiety.
I think what I have learned that I love a lot with baking are the memories behind a certain dessert. It is not just one memory but a vast amount of memories. There are so many times in my life where I eat a certain food and it reminds me of another time in my life when that food was significant, even the smallest way, to a event or moment. Those moments when you re-eat a food and look back on the good times make me feel so infinite.
I find that I am looking back on memories a lot lately but there are so very few great ones being made currently. These cookies made me remember and smile wide.

I hope that all made sense. I go to camp in 2 days so there won't be any baking for a while.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vanilla Cupcakes

I experimented with different types of vanilla cupcakes. I added chocolate chips to half the batter and then orange juice to one to see how it would taste. I frosted with cream cheese frosting. The best cream cheese frosting I've ever met. My house was really hot so it sort of melted a little bit but I finally found a cream cheese frosting that I liked that I could actually pipe with. Now if only I can find a vanilla frosting that I like that will let me pipe.

Listening to: This is my suitcase

Friday, July 4, 2008

Saffron Pistachio Ice Cream

First off let me say that I haven't abandoned my blog. I was sick for about 2 weeks then I went out of town for a weekend. I came home and was exhausted. Here I am, back at it again.
So I went to California for a wedding and they had the prettiest cake. I just want to show a picture of it cause I loved it. It was very simple, and when I went to look at it there were some other people and they were asking questions about the cake that I could actually answer. Guess all the baking and reading I do pays off.

When I bought my red kitchen aid stand mixer I got a free ice cream maker attachment. It isn't as great as the ice cream maker I have but it was fun to do. It was hard to set up but after figuring it out with no help from the directions it gave. With the old ice cream maker we had we use to make Iranian ice cream all the time. This seemed like a great time to do that again. This ice cream is made with the basic ingredients for ice cream: sugar and whole milk. I found a great Paula Deen recipe that also used vanilla pudding mix and evaporated milk. With that I added saffron, rose water, and pistachios. A little goes a long long way and with saffron and pistachios being as expensive as they are that rule is a very good thing.

Saffron Pistachio Ice Cream:
2 cups of whole milk (don't think 1% or 2% will work because it won't)
1 cup of sugar (I used about 3/4 c because that is all we had left and it was still great)
1 pkg of french vanilla instant pudding
12 oz can of evaporated milk
saffron and rose water to taste
1/4 cup of pistachios, grounded (grounded that they are little pieces but not so much that they are a powder)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: L'Opera Cake

This is my first Daring Bakers Challenge. And oh my, was it a challenge. This was my first cake that had so many elements that became very time consuming. These past few days have been busy since my friend is in town for 2 months so I had to find time to finish this cake. Tonight I finally did.
First let me describe what a opera cake is. It is a layered cake with layers of buttercream, nutty flavored thin cake, ganache, and glaze. Usually the flavors are coffee and chocolate but since it is spring time the daring bakers decided that light colors would be more appropriate.
This is how the cake is set up (jaconade, syrup, buttercream, jaconade, syrup, buttercream, jaconade, ganache/mousse, glaze).
I made a jaconade using hazelnuts instead of almonds and vanilla extract. A jaconade is a cake that does not rise. it is very very thin. I decided to not make the syrup because the jaconade was already sweet enough and i didnt want to make it overly sweet with the syrup. It was also already very very moist. Even after 2 days it was incredibly moist.
I didn't use the Daring Baker's buttercream frosting recipe because of the issues with eggs and how I didn't think the syrup would actually be hot enough to get rid of the bacteria in the eggs. So I actually used the buttercream recipe in Dorie's book. Finally Dorie didn't let me down. Hah. The buttercream was really good. The only thing was it was more buttery then sweet so I added about 2 TBSP of icing sugar and a lot of fresh lemon juice and frozen blueberries in juice. It turned out great. Not too sweet, but still a great thick consistancy. This was a great buttercream to experiment with.

For the ganache I use Gharadhelli (hopefully I spelled that right) white chocolate I got from Trader Joes. Trader Joes is my new place to get baking chocolate. You get a big block of nearly 9 oz for pretty cheap. At grocery stores it can get really expensive which adds up. So, I learned that my mixer doesnt whip up egg whites or heavy cream that well because I halved the recipes so its about half a cup at a time since I dont like to make a lot. I whipped out my hand held mixer that I have had since I was little. The instructions to make a ganache is you have to melt chocolate over the stove with a few tablespoons of heavy cream. It turned out oily and i had to use a spoon to get rid of the oil that built up. After I put the ganache in the fridge and it turned out GREAT! So far everything turned out as great as I wanted.
For the glaze which I didn't end up using a lot of in the end was blueberry glaze. Not the white chocolate glaze like in the recipe. I used corn starch to thicken it up. A lot of people use agar agar or gelatin to make a glaze. I have yet to try those, I will in the future I am sure. It ended up so well and very blueberry tasting.
Finally everything came together after 3 days. Attempt the recipe for yourself!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TWD: Sticky Buns

This weeks challenge, I will call it, was a failure, to but it lightly. So far I have not been impressed by Dorie, hopefully that will change soon. For this challenge you are suppose to make a Brioche bread dough, which I did. I didnt want to make more then I needed so I halved the recipe like it said to. Maybe that is where I went wrong, but I am not sure. When I made it the night before it seemed alright. More butter then I would ever put into a bread but I thought hey I love butter this will taste great. Then today I make the gooey part and that turned out alright too. I thought wow this will come out amazing. Wow was I wrong. Maybe it was the paper I used or I did something wrong with the glaze or the bread. The dough did not roll out to 15 rolls like said. I got 9. I also don't think I added enough cinnamon for the filling, that was my fault. This turned out a disaster, when I baked it it looked great then when it came time to plate it, the stuff would not come off of the parchment paper I used. It was stuck on there, and wasted my pecans which I paid so much for. I didn't even want to take a picture of the end result I got, the words I used to describe it as I was sobbing in dissapointment was "hot mess"
I guess you can't win them all.

Sticky Buns Recipe

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TWD: Berry Cheese Cake

Recently I joined 2 group baking blogs. TWD (Tuesdays with Dorie) is a group of bloggers who use the book "Baking: From my home to yours" by Dorie Greenspan and bake something weekly then post it on Tuesdays. This weeks challenge was Mandelines but unfortunately I do not have the right pan for it and I have yet to buy it, maybe sometime in the future but not now. So, we were allowed to do past challenges. Since this is my first challenge I got to choose from many. Everyone in my family has been craving cheese cake and this one seemed like a great one to do.

This cheese cake definitely needed to be eaten cold to taste good. It wasn't a great tasting one and I will probably try finding another recipe that taste better. Along with cream cheese this also had cottage cheese which my family and I are not a fan of. The texture of the cottage cheese really came through but luckily the taste of it didn't. It wasnt as creamy as I would have liked. The crust was great and I will use that recipe again for sure. I also liked the idea of having a layer of jam in it, I used Raspberry Jam.

Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte