Archive for December, 2010

December 29, 2010

Christmas is over.

How do I know when Christmas is over?

All of these are gone.

My mom makes them every year. They are the best. Even though I really like to bake, I stay out of the way at Christmas. Because she makes all the best Christmas cookies. Sorry I didn’t take pictures of any of the others…. I was too busy eating them.

But here’s the important thing: my mom is awesome! It was her birthday a while ago. I made her these cupcakes!

We usually swear by Duncan Hines Yellow Cake box mix with Betty Crocker canned chocolate frosting, but I bit the bullet and made these guys from scratch. They were pretty good, and the frosting was awesome. Just like my mom.

 

Love you ma!

Yellow Cupcakes
adapted from AllRecipes.com

1 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cupcake tin.
Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until done. Cool before frosting.
Fudgey Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Betty Crocker
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons hot water
In 2-quart saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of the hot water until smooth. (If frosting is too thick, add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time.) Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes!
December 28, 2010

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bread

Notes to self:

1. Do not wait a month to post baked goods because you will forget about them. (Sorry Betsy!)

2. Do not trust janky college  ovens with anything.

This was another one of those late night stress relief baking projects. My housemate Betsy and I were avoiding all people in the world, and thus decided that making bread that tasted like dessert would be the perfect carb/sugar load to enjoy our Friday night. I found this recipe on vanilla sugar, and it looks pretty divine.

Unfortunately, our ghetto Skidmore Scribner Village oven seems to hate cooking bread. This bread burned about 1/4 inch around the outside, bottom and side crusts included (even after a valiant attempt at covering the top with a tinfoil hat) and refused to cook at all in the middle. We were 10 minutes past the instructed bake time, and after jamming the fork tines through the quickly browning crust, I was reaching gloppy dough in the middle.

Finally we reached some sort of middle ground where the inside was cooked enough and the outside was hard as a rock. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so good. I really wanted it to be. And I’m sure it had the absolute best intentions to be a delicious, decadent little slice of heaven, particularly looking at the pictures from the original recipe, but it just cooked funny and it was untoastable because it just fell apart, so it couldn’t even be saved with a warm little pat of butter.

But… we ate the whole thing over the course of the weekend.  So I guess it did the job 🙂

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bread
Adapted from Vanilla Sugar

¾ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
1 TB vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
4 ts baking powder
1/2 ts salt

¾ cup of milk chocolate chips
3 TB of melted butter
Raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a small bowl mix the buttermilk and eggs together. In another bowl sift the flours, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla; add in the buttermilk/egg mixture. Then beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
Add in the milk chocolate chips.
Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 50 – 55 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. During the last 30 minutes of baking brush top with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes before removing.

 

December 18, 2010

Happy Holidays!

It’s been finals time. I’ve been busy. Who isn’t? But see, the logical thing to do would have been to set aside non-essential activities in order to focus on passing my classes. Nope, not me. I think have baked more in the past week than I have all semester. It is after all, the ultimate stress buster. First, you can procrastinate by browsing hundreds of drool-worthy recipes online. Then you can waste at least a couple of hours in the kitchen actually making the darn things. To top it off, you can wallow in your stress by scarfing down some freshly baked cookies/cupcakes/anything chocolate with your equally stressed housemates.

But really, who am I fooling? Stress is stress and not even these cheery sugar cookies can write a paper or study for an exam. They can, however, remind you that the holidays are right around the corner. We can all take a break, a breath, and recharge a bit. Sometimes, though, you just need a little holiday cheer to push through to the real thing. We tried hard as we can over here at my house of diverse faiths and traditions. We have a tiny Christmas tree—topped with the Star of David—and we have a menorah. We have lights (Thanks Elaine!), we have cranberry bread (Thanks Rebs!), we have Now That’s What I Call Christmas! 3 (Thanks Betsy!).

And we have sugar cookies (Thanks me!). The kind you roll out thin and cut out with cookie-cutters and decorate with frosting and eat for months until they go stale in your pantry. Somehow these ones didn’t make it that long in our house… Anyways, I plan to bake (and eat) my way through finals. And now that I’m done (YAY) and heading home, I plan to bake (and eat) my way through winter break. If you need a little homemade holiday cheer, whip up some of these classic sugar cookies, and have a wonderful break, my friends!

Sugar Cookies
Adapted from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett

2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
large pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Frosting or sprinkles for decorating

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, then the salt and vanilla, until evenly incorporated. Gradually stir in the flour mixture to form a smooth dough. If dough is overly dry, try adding some milk (just a tiny bit at a time) until the dough comes together.

Chill the dough for at least an hour or overnight. Remove from fridge and roll the dough out 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies with assorted cookie cutters and transfer carefully to an ungreased baking sheet. If using sprinkles, add before baking.

Bake for 8-11 minutes, until very lightly colored. Keep a very close watch as these will burn quite quickly. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before removing them and let them cool completely before decorating.

December 4, 2010

Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter?

Disclaimer: I love butter. I do. I’m not ashamed. The smell of butter melting in a saucepan. The taste of buttery shortbread melting in my mouth. Those cold chunks of yellow magically disappearing into a bowl of sugar, flour, and vanilla.

That being said, I’m always curious to try new things, and I’ve been learning a lot about the health benefits of eating vegan. Now, I tried the vegetarian thing for a while (two months to be exact), so I pretty much can guess that I will never be one to give up my milk and eggs for good. But it’s always nice to know that just in case I ever change my mind, I could still have plenty of delicious things to eat.

I brought these bars to my a capella group, The Drastics Measures, and nonchalantly placed them on the table, as I usually do with my Sunday rehearsal snacks for the group. However, I decided to keep their true identity a secret to test the stigma about cardboard-like, tasteless vegan desserts. One by one, the Drastics tried and were mostly delighted by these interesting cookies. Mr. President Bryce even said, “these are so buttery!” before discovering that there was not a pinch of dairy in them. When he found out the truth, he quickly retracted his statement and tried to insist that they weren’t so good after all. I know your true feelings, Bryce.

I certainly have become a bit of a convert for vegan baked goods. While I will never permanently trade in my butter for Earth Balance Buttery Spread or my eggs for flax seed and applesauce, I have eaten some pretty amazing vegan treats. Last year, I even blogged about the perfect vegan chocolate cookie, proclaiming it to be the single best of its kind I had ever eaten. These bars don’t quite meet that high standard, but they are certainly intriguing to the taste buds. The maple syrup flavor comes through quite nicely and the chocolate adds just enough sweetness.  They aren’t too dry but they hold together nicely. Great afternoon snack or tea cookie.

Do you have a kick-butt vegan recipe? I’d love to learn more! Share it with me!

Chocolate-Drizzled Maple Wedges

1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more if needed

1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 ounce finely chopped unsweetened chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Lightly grease an 8″ or 9″ round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the oil, the maple syrup, and the vanilla. Combine the flour and salt and add to the creamed mixture, blending thoroughly with your hands until the dough holds together. Press into the cake pan and bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.

In a small saucepan, stir together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, water, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Placing the unsweetened chocolate in a small, heat-proof bowl, pour the hot mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for several minutes, until the chocolate has melted. Stir until smooth, cool until drizzling consistency.

Drizzle the chocolate over the bars using a pastry bag or a Ziploc with one corner cut off.  Let cool before slicing with a sharp knife.

Check this article out in SkidNews!

December 1, 2010

Forgiveness Granola

I’m sorry I didn’t post a single scrap of tasty goodness over Thanksgiving, the holiday best known for feasting and indulging. Why, do you ask? Why would I so neglect you?

Because I was so darn busy feasting and indulging that I didn’t even bother to open my computer all weekend long!

So I ask for your forgiveness with this tasty granola I made for my pop’s birthday! I even used fancy things like agave nectar, local maple syrup, and wheat germ.

This maple granola is perfect for autumn – it is sweet (like my dad – Happy Birthday!), crunchy (like the leaves on the ground), and dying for some ice cold skim milk and a spoon (like any self-respecting breakfast food). YUM!

Maple Almond Granola
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T dark brown sugar
3 T pure maple syrup
2 T canola oil
2 T agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, almonds, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar together. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, canola oil, agave nectar, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands. Spread the mixture out onto the baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When granola begins to be golden-brown, remove from oven, stir in the raisins and cool completely. Store in an air tight container.