Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snowy Village

For Chanukah this year, my ever thoughtful brother bought me this "Snowy Village Cakelet Pan" from Williams-Sonoma (which is unfortunately no longer available). I bought him a robot, so I think it was a good deal.In any case, I've been having a great deal of fun with my new toy.
The greatest thing about them is that they look uber-adorable and presentable with the least amount of effort: just a sprinkling of "snow" and you're set.

Each of the six "cakelet" molds is unique, with a different roof, chimneys and door.

They popped out of the pan with little rounded bottoms, which I sliced off so they all sat evenly instead of wobbling around like Russian nesting dolls.

Which of course, meant snack time!
Once I had my village set up.... was time to bring on the blizzard.
Thank goodness I don't have to shovel. (Ha, like I ever shovel).
Which is a good thing, since the snow is just getting heavier!
Residents are requested to remain indoors.
The walkway isn't cleared!
Put some entrepeneurial soul managed to get out to build a snowman.
How brave.

Anywho, I couldn't possibly tell you what cake recipe I used for these since I can't remember at all (and I doubt many of you have a snowy village cakelet pan in your possession). There was a recipe that came with the pan, but I found it didn't make nearly enough to fill them the first time around. So that batch went straight in to our mouth shaped garbage.

So...anyone having a housewarming party soon? I have the perfect gift.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Soft Oatmeal Cookies

While I have an incredible recipe for crispy, light-as-air oatmeal cookies (which I can't find right now) already, I've really been looking for a great chewy cookie recipe as well.
These aren't it. These were good cookies, and I really liked the addition of the cocoa powder to the recipe. It added additional flavor without being noticeably chocolate-y.
Instead of being a "chewy" cookie, these were more of a "soft" cookie. Were those unnecessary quotation marks? Perhaps.
These are the type of cookie that would be good for an ice cream sandwich, or maybe in a whoopie pie of sorts, but they weren't my favorite plain. Although, my friends gobbled them up pretty quickly, so perhaps it's just a personal thing.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, that in the making of these cookies, I actually committed the cardinal sin of (gasp!) running out of flour! Luckily I had some whole wheat flour on hand, and I used about 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1/4 cup whole wheat.

Tip of the Day: You can generally find two types of cocoa powder available: Natural and Dutch Process. Dutch process has an alkaline solution added to it, and is milder, and should be used with baking powder. Natural does not have anything added to it, and is a richer taste, and should be used in recipes with baking soda. The most common called for one is Dutch Process (and the only one I keep on hand).


1 cup (sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups oats

Cream together the butter and sugars. Mix in the vanilla.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.
Add the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cocoa powder and oats to the mixture. Stir until combined.
Let dough refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Drop by tbsp on to a cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 F for about 10-12 minutes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

One Year

Wow. I'm a little surprised I made it here. As much as I'm happy and proud and excited, I'm definitely surprised. After all, this is the girl who's still working on her mother's 40th birthday present (and I won't tell you how old she is, but trust me, it's not 40!), and the one who cut out a pattern for a skirt 6 years ago and has yet to sew it, and the girl who has had an unfinished puzzle sitting on top of her dresser for the past 6 months.

Let's just say, I'm not known for my staying power, but man, 1 year, 127 posts, approximately 700 eggs and 15 complete disasters later - I'm still standing.

That's right, today is my 1-year bloggiversary. A year ago today, I offered you my first post, my first recipe, and my first baking tip. Which, by the way, was a tip for making level cupcakes. Which I still can't do.

So, on my 6-month anniversary, I shared with you my favorite recipes since I started. Since then, boy-oh-boy have I made some tasty things. Sometimes I feel like it's hard to separate the really amazing, mind-blowingly incredible desserts from the simply delicious ones. And that's what I'm here for now. These are all make-as-soon-as-possible good.

(These are in no particular order):

1. Cinnamon Chocolate Bundt Cake
2. Coconut Shortbread Cookies
3. Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
4. Cinnamon Swirl Bread
6. Oreo Cookie Cookies
7. Snickerdoodles

So there it is. One year down, with hopefully much more to come. If you stick around over the next few months, you'll get to see snow-topped house cakes, cookie-dough truffles, lemon cream tart, molten chocolate cakes and much more.

So, happy birthday blog, happy birthday Shira, and happy birthday everyone else out there born on January 22. It's a great day!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coconut Strawberry Bars

As I've mentioned before, I love coconut. But I'm just about the only one I know. Well, not only, but most of my friends are family are not fans. So I don't make it all that often, but sometimes, I just have to break it out.
I cut these in to little squares, but that just resulted in me eating about 15 of them.
I actually screwed this recipe up, because I was supposed to bake the base of the cookie first, before adding the topping, but I totally forgot, and then it was too late. I adjusted the time and temperature for baking, and I honestly can't see how it would have made much difference. These were delicious.

Tip of the Day: In most supermarkets, you can purchase both sweetened and unsweetened coconut. In general, stick with what a recipe says, but they can be quite easily interchanged with each other, without adjusting anything else in the recipe.

Recipe: (from Bars & Squares)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter or margarine, cubed
3 tbsp cold water

1/3 cup jam
2 eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Combine the flour and sugar.
With a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers, cut in the butter until coarse crumbs are formed.
Add in water and mix until moistened.
Press dough in to a greased, 9 inch square pan.
Bake base, 10 to 12 minutes at 425 F.
Spread jam evenly over crust.
Beat the eggs until frothy. Add in sugar, and continue to beat until mixture is thick.
Stir in coconut.
Drop by teaspoonfuls over the jam and carefully spread to cover.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes on 350 F (notice the temperature change).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Recipe Index

Hey guys -

I'll be back with a new recipe soon (even though tomorrow is my last first day), but for now, I just wanted to let you know about a little something to make it easier to find all the other recipes up here.
This here is a Recipe Index - a comprehensive list of all the recipes on this site, divided by category.
It's still a work in progress, so let me know if there are any issues or dead links.
The link will have a permanent home on the left hand side of this page, so this is the place to visit for baking inspiration!



Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Friend Request Accepted...

I always like to ask friends what they would like me to make. Friends, family, coworkers, classmates - I want to know what you want, because, as much as I'd like to, I'm not going to eat everything myself. Just a lot of it.

There are some requests that I know by now - anything with peanut butter for Esti (who will certainly get her wish for her birthday on Friday!), anything without peanut butter for Ariel and Sarah, anything with lemon for Racheli, anything with nuts for my parents, anything without nuts for my brother, anything without nuts, mango and citrus fruits for Naomi, anything with blue sugar for Laura (Yes, blue sugar. More on that another day), just about anything for Miriam... and the list goes on.

There are some requests that are not happening (sorry, I don't have all the ingredients for a trifle, it is 2 a.m.) (no, I'm not making you petit fours, I don't have 8 hours) and some times where I make things just for me (or how they make my apartment smell).

But what is the most requested dessert? Well the conversation goes something like this:

Me: What should I make?
You: Chocolate chip cookies!
Me: Seriously? But that's so boring!
You: Uhhhh, sorry?

Because while we all love a great chocolate chip cookie, I don't love making chocolate chip cookies, because, well, they're a bit boring. I'd rather experiment. Try something new. Make something that may end up in the garbage - heck, I wasted 4 hours, 12 eggs and my sanity, but at least it was exciting!

So when I saw this recipe for browned butter chocolate chip cookies, I got excited. Browned butter refers to cooking - "browning" the butter used in a recipe in a pan or skillet before incorporating it with the other ingredients, giving it a nutty, enhanced flavor.
Sounds great, right? Right. But unfortunately me, in my naivete, used margarine instead of butter, which, is a big no-no. Apparently its something in science with the words protein and clarified and particles and things like that - but it didn't work.
So I bow my head in shame, and I'll just have to try these again soon with real butter. Overall, these were a good cookie - just nothing exceptional. I'll post the recipe below for those of you who want to try, otherwise I can always count on these.

If you have a request of your own for me to make - let me know in the comments (or e-mail) and you might see it here soon!

Speaking of friend requests, come check me out over at Twitter! If you follow me, you'll get to hear about my obsession with American Idol, how I love to bake in high heels despite the risk, and what ends up on the wall instead of the oven. I'm @BakingMistaking, come visit!

Tip of the Day: I like to shape my drop cookies in the bowl of a tablespoon measurement - they're all uniform, they have a flat bottom so they don't roll around on the tray, and a tablespoon is a good amount for most - not all - cookies.

Recipe: (from the Baking Bites cookbook)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips

Melt butter in a small pan and cook over low-medium heat until turned an amber color.
Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
Whisk together with the sugars, eggs and vanilla.
Add the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt, mix until combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Bake cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheets on 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool for five minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Palmiers....OK we can call them Elephant's Ears

I feel like I've had a string of so-so desserts recently, so I wanted to give you guys a real success to sink your teeth in to. (get it?) And these were definitely a success. And with just two ingredients, they are seriously easy and I might just venture to say that anyone can make them. Yes, there is a sharp knife and a hot oven involved, so probably best for ages 8 and up, but otherwise...make Palmiers!
If these don't immediately look familiar to you from the home of every assorted cookie plate in the country, then let me tell you more about them. They have two things: puff pastry, and sugar.
OK, fine, I added a little cinnamon to mine for some additional flavor, but that's it, I promise!

Here's how it goes: take pastry. Sprinkle with sugar. Roll two ends to the middle until they meet. Slice off cookies. Bake. Eat. Bake more. Eat.
Seriously, this puff pastry comes straight from the freezer section of the store (I used Pepperidge Farm). I'm sure you could make your own, but really, why bother?
After thawing the dough, roll it out a little until it's thinner. Then sprinkle with the sugar, and roll each end up until the middle.
It's important that when the dough goes in to the oven to bake, it's very cold, so chill between steps. They're easier to slice when cold, so put the dough in the fridge after you've rolled it up. If they warm up too much while you're cutting, you can chill them again before baking.
Sometimes they won't quite hold their shape after slicing - but they're easy to form back the way you want!

Tip of the Day: Thaw puff pastry out of the box, about 1/2 an hour. If any cracks form, just wet the dough a little and press it back together.


1/2 box puff pastry
cinnamon (optional)

Thaw the pastry.
Roll out in to a rectangle about 8x14".
Sprinkle the surface liberally with sugar, and cinnamon if you desire.
Roll the long ends of the rectangle toward each other until they meet in the middle.
Press down to hold in place.
Refrigerate the dough for 20 to 30 minutes.
Slice off cookies 3/8" wide and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Sprinkle with additional sugar on top.
Bake in a 400 F oven for 10 minutes, then flip them over, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until crispy.
Your baking time may vary widely so take them out when they look crispy and the centers are cooked through.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chocolate Sandwich Bars and reinvention

As you can see from the title of this post, I set out to create Chocolate Sandwich Bars. And ended up with something a little...different.
The idea for these is so simple, and so ingenious, that I can't believe I didn't think of it before. These bar cookies call for a cookie base, and a chocolate filling, that you spread between two layers of cookie batter and then bake it all together. Just genius.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite execute the way I wanted. Though I followed the recipe except leaving out the almonds in the dough, I found I didn't have nearly enough dough, and too much filling.
After I spread the first layer in, then the chocolate, I soon realized I didn't have enough filling to top them completely. But there was no way I was giving up then, so I swirled what I did have together with the chocolate and baked it up.

And of course I still ate one.
They had a great, rich, chocolatey taste, but I would definitely like there to be more cookie to the filling - and look like more like a sandwich! - and maybe a little bit sweeter. The idea is still exciting, so I'll just have to try again soon.

Tip of the Day: While I'm a big fan of using foil, disposable pans, when making bar cookies I often try to use a metal pan if I can - otherwise you don't get the nice smooth edges. Of course, that just leaves more of an excuse for the chef to "even them out"!

Recipe: (From Bars & Squares)
Note: This is the recipe in its original format. I'd recommend doubling the dough if making it.

2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
[1 cup chopped almonds - I left these out]

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)
1 cup milk or whipping cream
2 tbsp butter

Melt the chocolate and butter together, and combine with the milk. Set aside to let cool.

Whisk the sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla together until smooth.
Stir in the flour, and almonds if using, until smooth.
Spread half the batter in the bottom of a greased 9x13" pan.
Spread the filling evenly over the base.
Dot the remaining batter on top and spread with a knife to cover.
Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes.
Let cool completely in pan before cutting.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Busy Day Cake

Between work and school and all my time spent in the kitchen, any recipe titled "Busy Day Cake" is bound to catch my eye. And it did.
From Edna Lewis' "The Taste of Country Cooking," this Busy Day Cake is designed to be thrown together in a few minutes, and then topped with whatever fruit or jam you have lying around.
I certainly managed to throw it together quickly, but after my friends and I each sampled it with our favorite toppings - jam, frosting, ganache - I wasn't all that impressed. But I don't know if it was something I did, or just the recipe.
I wasn't supposed to bake it in a bundt tin, but I did anyway. Perhaps it cooked too quickly in here? I also substituted cinnamon for the nutmeg, but that's more of a personal thing. Maybe I'm just too used to complicated cakes with mix-ins and fillings and frostings and icing and glazes? Not sure. Perhaps I just left it in the oven too long and will never know the goodness of this cake? The mystery continues...

Either way, this cake was nothing to write home about. Good thing blogs don't need stamps.

Tip of the Day: Butter softens best sitting out for an hour at room temperature, but if you need to speed it up use the microwave, but make sure to put it on a lower setting or a "soften" setting or you'll end up with melted butter.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
2 cups flour
3 tsps baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 good pinch freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup milk, at room temperature

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one by one, until well mixed. Add in the vanilla.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Add about 1/4 of the flour mixture to the batter and beat together.
Add 1/3 of the milk, and then alternate adding the flour and milk until all mixed.
Bake in a 9x9" pan for 30 to 35 minutes on 375F.