Friday, November 14, 2014

I Baked a Bunch of Stuff

I suppose, really, all my posts could have that title. But the truth is, I've baked so much random stuff since the last time I blogged, I found photos that I can't remember what they're of (other than the obvious "that's a cake"). So, here's a bunch of good stuff for you:


October started with these churro cupcakes made for a celebration in honor of my Grandmother. It would have been her 100th birthday. She was a Los Angeles gal, so the theme was "Grandma's LA", which included places like Olvera Street (hence the churro cupcakes), Philippe's, Chinatown, etc. My aunt brought the most beautiful pinata I've ever seen (Grandma used to bring them to every family party), as well as some homemade Almond Cookies that I need to make myself. They were so delicate and delicious.

The cupcakes are my go-to white cake recipe (from the BAKED boys) with a little cinnamon added to the batter, topped with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and a piece of churro and cinnamon sugar sprinkle for decoration. So easy. So yummy.


In an unprecedented turn of events, not only did we have TOO MANY cupcakes (I know), but I also had tons of leftover frosting. So I decided to make this Spiced Zucchini Cake to put under the frosting. And then topped it with toasted pecans. Also ridiculously good. Especially for something filled with vegetables.

In the middle of the month, Prima turned 15 and wanted Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for her party. I used a full bottle of this good stuff:


and ended up with the most brilliant red Red Velvet I've ever made. So beautiful. And they were perfect in every other way as well. 

 

Used the same cream cheese frosting I used for the other two recipes, except I omitted the cinnamon and added vanilla and almond extracts. More deliciousness.


Then at the end of the month my sister (the yogi) visited for her 50th birthday celebration and I made this Toasted Coconut Cake for her. There's a lot of people in my family, so one dessert is never enough. I thought I'd give these brownies a try, they're supposed to taste just like Hostess Sno balls. Well. You can never really go back to your childhood, can you. They were fine, just not really anything like a Hostess Sno ball.


The coconut sure did end up looking pretty though. I'll have to use that trick for something else in the future.


And that's a wrap! 

Next up: It's pie season! I'm heading out tomorrow morning for my clandestine lard pick-up and trying to decide what pies to make for Thanksgiving. Prima wants Cherry Chocolate and Seconda wants Chocolate Pecan. I want to maybe try something new as well, thinking about these specifically, but I'm still on the lookout...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Buttery Pecan Pumpkin Spice Cookies (Averie Cooks)


I've been baking oversized cookies for...oh, probably a year or so now, and I don't think I can ever go back. With normal sized cookies you can't really ever achieve that nice, crispy outside with a slightly doughy inside. You also have to eat 3...or maybe 4...or 5. Oversized? All you need is 1.

These cookies are lovely. They're not like Pecan Sandies in that sort of explode into dust in your mouth way. They're more hearty than that. They have more texture. If they were a wine, I'd say they also have more body. I love the combination of pecan and pumpkin pie spice. For my taste, these were a little lacking in the flavor department. But only a little. I used salted, toasted pecans and I think I still could have added a hefty pinch of salt to bring out the flavors. I also could have added half again as much pumpkin pie spice. Then, I think they'd be perfect. Because everything else about them is right on. No need to alter for high altitude, which, in my world is like hitting the jackpot. Easy to make (although this is one of those recipes you need to plan ahead for because the dough has to be refrigerated before baking). Yummy.

Although...alterations can be good...I might make them again and dip one side in a little melted chocolate for my kids (they like pumpkin and chocolate together--me, I'm not such a fan). My best girl made a batch and dipped the dough balls in rum and then rolled them in a combination of brown and ultra fine white sugars before baking. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I would also consider rolling the dough balls in cinnamon sugar. The point, I guess, being that this is a good starting point for some potentially amazing cookies. Alter at will.

TGIP Rating--Buttery Pecan Pumpkin Spice Cookies--KEEPER with alterations to be tried.

Next up: Big baking project coming up for a family party to celebrate the 100th anniversary of my grandmother's birth. I'll let you in on the reasons why when I post about them, but I'm making churro cupcakes (A LOT of churro cupcakes). I don't yet know how or...how, but that's the plan. If you have an idea, send it my way!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes


Back after an incredibly long hiatus and yet, without a whole lot to say.

Here's what I WILL say: Seconda loves chocolate chip cookie dough, so this recipe seemed like just the thing for her birthday party.

It worked like *MAGIC*--frozen balls of cookie dough plopped on top of uncooked batter:


During their time in the oven, the dough sinks down to the bottom and the cake batter rises up around it:


Truly astounding feats of culinary trickery! (What else can I make into little frozen bits and cook into cupcakes like this?!) That bit of uncooked dough at the bottom of the cupcake makes the whole thing rich and surprising.

And the Cookie Dough Buttercream Frosting? Wow. Wowee wow wow. I'm working on finding other ways to use it (I mean other than just eating it out of the bowl with a spoon). It was so rich and delicious, had so many of the qualities of cookie dough--especially the granular texture, which I love.



TGIP Rating--Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes--KEEPER. So so good.

Next up: Rhubarb season came and went and although I got *pretty* close, I did not quite achieve rhubarb pie perfection. Good thing that stuff grows again next year. In the meantime, we're ready for Autumn at our house. And that means pumpkin spice everything. It's one of the things I love about the change of seasons, the change in what flavors we want to eat. Also, I need cookies. Found this recipe today and instantly wanted to bake them.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes


First off, you should know that Cherry Limeade is probably my favorite thing in the world. Okay. ONE OF my favorite things. So, this cupcake recipe was sort of a "OF COURSE I want to make that and why didn't I think of it myself" proposition. 

Positives first: I've never used a recipe that so precisely yielded exactly what it promised. I tripled the recipe. Enough batter for EXACTLY 36 cupcakes and the perfect amount of frosting to frost those 36 cupcakes. Brilliant. Turns out, I made a dozen more than I should have and they ended up here 3 days later:


But that's on me. I should have sent the extras home with this one. He looks like he could use an extra cupcake or 12, doesn't he?


The cake itself was lovely, not too sweet, nice level of lime-y-ness. Also, they're pretty to look at (even if I didn't do all the garnishing I could have and even though my cherries didn't have stems) (which, why didn't they?!):


Now, for the negatives. Which, there's only one and it's a niggling little thing: I need more cherry in my cherry frosting. And maybe less generalized sweetness. 

Fortunately, these were very quick and easy to whip together, so I can try again. I might try a little cherry extract along with the maraschino cherry juice. And I might see if I can reduce the powdered sugar and still get the right texture. Because the idea is perfection. I think I just need to tweak it for my personal tastes.


TGIP Rating--Cherry Limeade Cupcakes--Almost there. Almost. I'll take another crack and see if I can't make them perfect FOR ME. As the recipe stands right now, they are probably perfect for somebody else. Maybe even you.

Next up: A beloved and generous friend has gifted me with pounds and pounds of rhubarb this summer. I'm a relative newcomer to it, so I'm improvising much of the time, but I'm doing my best to solve the mystery that is "pie plant" (I kind of love that that's what rhubarb is called in some circles). I'm guinea-pigging my friends and loved ones and working toward the perfect rhubarb pie recipe. And then you'll have it too!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars


Seriously? Yes, seriously. This is the only picture I took. Because I wasn't planning on blogging about these cookies. But they are my everything. As much as I love chocolate, nothing hits my sweet spot like a good, crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside frosted sugar cookie. Nothing. It makes me feel like I'm 5 years old and don't have a care in the world and can just be in the moment of eating that cookie. But, as I've said before I hate the refrigerating, rolling, cutting aspect of making sugar cookies. Remember when I said I'd never use another sugar cookie recipe ever, when I made these? Yeah, I lied. THIS is the recipe I'll never cheat on. I want to make and eat these bars every day. For every holiday. Independence Day coming up? Yeah, Imma make them and sprinkle them with red, white, and blue sprinkles. Halloween? Orange and black sprinkles. Or maybe I'll use those teeny tiny bones and googly eyes sprinkles I have in my pantry. Christmas? Red and green. You see where I'm going. I can't think of a holiday (or a day of the week that ends with Y) when I wouldn't want to eat these. In fact, Monday is Memorial Day. What sprinkles should I use? Because I'm making them. And so should you. You're welcome.


TGIP Rating--Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars--KEEPER.

Next up: I'm just about finished with the first phase of my super secret project. And school's almost out. And maybe we need cupcakes up in here. Like these ones.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sweet & Salty Millionaire's Layer Cake



This guy (AKA mr.) had a birthday last week. And graduated from the University of Utah on the same day. AND he didn't just graduate, he graduated Magna Cum Laude, which for this school means he was in the top 3.5% of graduating seniors. I almost burst with happiness for him. Seriously. My happiness leaked out my eyes all day.

So, he deserved a cake meant for a millionaire. And this was exactly right. There are a lot of steps on that recipe and it looks like it's going to be super difficult. But it wasn't. Okay, maybe I cheated a little because I'm not so good at making caramel. I bought some of this for the caramel layer (buying stuff is super easy):



I consider it a smart concession to my known lack of talent in a particular area.

Then I made the shortbread crumble (super easy):


Then I made the cake layers (super easy), the buttercream (super easy), and the ganache (super easy). (No, seriously). Then I gathered it all together for assembly.


I'm going to be honest here and admit that I should have let the ganache cool more, but I'm impatient. Also a known lack. But look how amazing the buttercream/caramel/shortbread crumble filling looks:


And then I sprinkled regular and red sea salt around the top and more shortbread crumbles around the bottom (what is it about the bottom edge of a cake that bugs me so much I always have to cover it up?).


And then we ate it. So rich. So delicious. Perfectly moist cake. Perfect ganache. The surprise of the crunch of cookies in the filling was just delightful. A complete success and just the thing for my amazing husband's birthday/graduation celebration weekend.



TGIP Rating--Sweet & Salty Millionaire's Cake--KEEPER. Reminder to myself: next time make the ganache before the buttercream. Let it cool while making the buttercream. Then both will be at perfect assembly consistency at the same time.

Next up: More work on my top secret project that I probably still can't talk about for a few months. AND...the sugar cookie that is my new everything.

Friday, April 11, 2014

(New and Improved) Salt Lake Bomb Pie

There's no recipe for this. So sorry. Because it's the easiest pie in the world.

Here's how you do it:

Make pie dough. This is a good recipe. I know because it's mine.

Buy 3 Kouing Aman from this place. You'll probably want to buy more than 3 because they're the most delicious things in the world and this little Salt Lake bakery is kind of famous for them. You can have them shipped anywhere in the US. Cut your Kouing Aman up into cubes like so.


Find a Chess Pie recipe and follow the instructions. Here's a good one (it's on my blog, but it's from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook). I used only 3/4 cup of sugar because there's a good bit of sweetness to the Kouing Aman. Especially pay attention to the instructions re: prebaking the crust. After prebaking, place your cubed Kouing Aman in the crust and pour in the Chess Pie filling. Follow the instructions in your Chess Pie recipe for baking. Take out of your oven the most beautiful pie you'll ever see.


Serve it to friends and family with a dollop of whipped cream or some vanilla ice cream. Watch how amazed they are at your culinary skills. Don't tell them that this pie required no skills. Aside from knowing where to buy good pastries.


Honestly, it's ridiculous how good this is. It's like caramel bread pudding pie. With kind of a crunchy top and softy sweet eggy insides. But not too soft. Or too eggy. Or too sweet. I've mentioned before that we often have a surplus of baked goods at our house and they sometimes end up in the trash (shame). This pie disappeared faster than anything I've made in quite some time. And Seconda said, "This is what they sell at pie shops in heaven." Success.


TGIP Rating--Salt Lake Bomb Pie, Kouing Aman Chess Pie, whatever you want to call it--such a KEEPER.

Next up: I'm about to embark on a food-related project that is top secret for now. It will use up a good portion of my cooking/baking free time at least until the end of May. I will probably bake treats here and there and blog about them, but with less frequency than I have been. At any rate, stay tuned!

P.S. I finally did get some cake that scratched my itch. It was not homemade. It was from Mrs. Backer's Pastry Shop, another beloved bakery here in Salt Lake (maybe all bakeries should be pink). I'm pretty sure their buttercream isn't all butter, but I also know that it's strangely comforting. And sometimes that's just what a girl needs to hit the spot.