Friday, February 25, 2011

Alton Brown's Protein Bars

So, this isn't my usual ingredient list. Nor is it my usual baking style. Tofu? Soy protein powder? Uh, no. I don't know why, those things don't seem like "real" food to me. Although I like tofu, and soymilk and other soy products. It's just terms of baking...that stuff seems like Jetson's food.

I made these bars because...well, it's kind of a long story. It's because of this play I'm doing. In which my character, who is skeptical of all things eco-friendly, says "I don't want whatever puffed amaranth alpha and omega-3 super bar you've got, okay?" The line has changed somewhat. In the original version of the play there were more things listed as ingredients of this bar (which our actor-friendly playwright kindly put in alphabetical order) and there was also at least one profanity used in describing this bar.

Anyway, I wanted to give the women I've been working with a token of affection as an opening night gift. So, these bars seemed...fitting.

Are they a delicious treat? No. Are they a passable protein bar? Absolutely. Are they better than actual brand-name Power Bars? Oh, yes. Far less with the chewy. Will I make them again? Brace yourselves for another long story...probably not. Prima is allergic to peanuts, and although her allergy is not severe (we use peanut butter all the time--just not in her food), this is the first time I've baked in our home with it. She was mortally offended. And frankly, it's not worth it to me to make these. Because they're okay, but they're not GREAT. Did I give them to my theatre companions for opening night anyway? Yes. With homemade wrappers that used the line from the play as the name of the bar. If nothing else, I'm sometimes clever.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday for making whoopie.


Aw, c'mon. You had to have seen that one coming.

I actually made these for a baby shower for one of my younger sisters who is finally having a girl baby after having four wild and wonderful boy babies (whoopie!). And babies sometimes come from guessed it...whoopie.

This was also my first Whoopie Pie experience--both baking and eating (whoopie!).

Okay, I'll stop. If you want to see the recipe, go here. And when you go there you'll see that there are some terribly smart and clever people here on the internet who keep things fun and interesting for the rest of us.

First surprise--this was a really easy recipe. I don't know why I thought it would be more difficult, but I did. Okay, so I maybe cooked some of the cookies/cakes a little too long,

but my oven isn't very deep so I was trying to cook one pan on each--the top and bottom racks. I think that maybe didn't work so well. Lesson learned.

Second surprise--maybe I bought the industrial strength food color? Because WOW. I didn't even get a full tablespoon out of the little bottle I bought and mine are WAY more red than the ones in the book. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Just unexpected.

Third surprise--Whoopie Pies are delicious. Cakey, creamy, yummy, squishy, cookie-whoopie-ness. Thank god they're easy to make because I'm probably going to make every incarnation of them I can find.

Notes for next time:
  • Only cook one pan of cookies/cakes at a time.
  • Be more generous with the filling, there's plenty to go around!

TGIP Rating--Red Velvet Whoopie Pies--KEEPER!!

Next up: I want to make a perfect Carrot Cake. That means if you have a good recipe, you need to send it to me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TGIP Field Trip: The Wild Grape

I know. I just posted a Field Trip entry last week. I'm rehearsal-ized right now, so this is the best I can do.

And okay, The Wild Grape isn't actually a bakery. It's a local restaurant. But they make one of my favorite pastry treats in the world: beignets. What's that they don't call them beignets anymore because people didn't know what they were so they didn't order them. So now, on their brunch menu you'll find "House-made Doughnut Holes". Fine. But they're about the biggest doughnut holes you could ever imagine. And they are so yummy. Not greasy--cakey and warm and crusty. Perfectly sugared. They serve them with a warm chocolate sauce and an orange crème anglaise, both of which are delicious.

And also, sometimes I don't have a camera with me so you have to put up with iPhone pictures. This will probably happen a lot in Field Trip entries. But...I kinda like it.

TGIP Rating--The Wild Grape--Highly recommended for brunch beignets. I still need to go there for dinner sometime and try their dessert menu: Chocolate "S'mores" Torte (!), Pear Crisp (!), Pt. Reyes Blue Cheesecake (!!), Roasted Banana Bread Pudding (!). Yeah, I def need to go there for dinner. Soon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

TGIP Field Trip: The Sweet Tooth Fairy

I'm starting a new occasional feature: Field Trips! I like to visit bakeries to see which ones I like. To see which ones I would visit when I don't feel like (or have time for) baking myself. To get ideas for baking projects. And of course, to eat delicious treats! I might even make a habit of finding bakeries to visit when we go on family vacations. Get an idea of what's going on in the baking world outside my own backyard. And I'll share all my experiences with you in words and (hopefully) beautiful photographs.

First up: The Sweet Tooth Fairy. This company started out (if memory serves) as an online only cupcake business. They have grown rapidly and now have 5 locations. And with good reason. Often, cupcakes don't have the right proportions for my taste. They have too much frosting, the frosting is applied to make the cupcake too tall. You can't actually pick it up, take a bite, and get the right amount of cake and frosting in that bite. That is not at all the case with Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcakes. They are perfectly proportioned. No fork required.

(Cupcakes pictured clockwise from top left: Va-NIE-lla Squared, Root Beer Float, Strawberry Shortcake, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip)

They also have a variety of really wonderful flavors. I've tasted several. In fact, the last time we got cupcakes, Prima, Seconda and I passed our cupcakes to each other so we could taste that many more flavors. Their cupcakes are moist and delicious. Their frostings have a perfect consistency and are not too sweet (with one exception). They also make Cakebites, which the girls and I really like, though mr. doesn't.

(Cakebites pictured: German Chocolate, Double Chocolate Fudge, Fairyfetti, Coconut, Lemon, Red Velvet)

It's like a more dense and moist cake cut into small pieces and dipped in a more glaze-like frosting. Lovely little treats. The bars were kind of unimpressive, but that could be because the one I tasted had been in the bakery box on our counter for a couple of days before I ate it.

Some specifics:

  • Red Velvet Cupcake--has a hint of almond in the frosting that I really liked. The Va-NIE-lla Squared cupcake had the same hint. Really lovely.
  • Root Beer Float Cupcake--when I asked the girl at the counter about it she said it was a root beer cake with a vanilla ice cream frosting. I was sort of mystified at the idea of ice cream flavored frosting, but it was! It had a thicker consistency than most frosting, so it stayed like a little scoop on top of the cupcake, and it tasted like vanilla ICE CREAM.
  • Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake--perfect wintertime dessert.
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcake--I haven't tasted this, but mr. has. A modern conundrum: what is really the difference between a pumpkin muffin and a pumpkin cupcake? He's very clear--theirs is a cupcake, not a muffin.
  • Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake--This is the only item that I've tasted that I would say is too sweet. The frosting...if I'm being honest...hurt my teeth.
  • Cakebites--My favorites are Egg Nog and Fairyfetti. I have no idea what it is that the Fairyfetti tastes like--ground up fairies? If so, they're delicious! It almost tastes like a sugar cookie--but cake.
(pictured: Cookies n' Cream Bar, Peppermint Chocolate Brownie, Seven Layer Bar)

TGIP Rating--The Sweet Tooth Fairy--Highly Recommended. I would not be ashamed at all to show up at a party with their goodies in my hands, rather than a dessert I baked myself.

ETA 2/7: I tried their "Foxy Bar" on Friday...YUM. Butterscotchy, marshmallowy, deliciousness.