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Photo issues October 15, 2013

I hit my first speed bump in photo blogging today: I forgot to take photos! Oops. I’ll just have to take more photos on Thursday. Here’s the one photo I managed to take today of chocolate chip cookie dough truffles:

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Gluten-free Day October 14, 2013

No special orders for today, which means I had time to do something other than just the normal cupcakes for the case. I chose some gluten-free desserts. We seem to have a high demand for special dietary needs desserts and I try to keep something gluten-free in the case most days. Today I did three such desserts: peanut butter truffles (known as buckeyes to my Kansas friends), flourless chocolate torte (not pictured), and Death By Chocolate (one of my flourless chocolate tortes had an unfortunate accident and needed to be turned into a parfait with the addition of chocolate ganache and chantilly cream.)

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Adventures in Pastry School January 26, 2012

So, I’ve been slacking a bit on this whole blog thing, but I have a really good reason: last October I started pastry school!  I am currently enrolled in a six month program at Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, and it is amazing.  I’m having so much fun and learning all sorts of new tricks.  There are days when I get frustrated with my abilities, or lack there of, but most days it’s a blast.  I can’t wait to go to class each day and see what I’m going to learn.  I don’t really have a lot of free time to write posts most days, so I’ve been saving up pictures of all of my finished products to share with you now.  Enjoy!

 

First Birthday Celebration October 20, 2011

The The Peanuts’ first birthday was last month and there mom has covered pretty much everything from the party onher blog, except for the cupcake recipes.  That was my job, and quite honestly, I’ve been slacking.  I posted right before the party about the Caramel Corn that I made, but never made it around to telling you about the amazing cupcakes.  We decided that we wanted to make three different cupcake toppers for the party: one with pictures of Ellisa, one with pictures of Hudson, and one with one of the first pictures taken of them together.  Since we were being so ambitious with the toppers, we decided that we needed three different cupcakes to go with them: Peanut Butter Cup with White Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting, a peanut butter cup tucked in the center, and chocolate jimmies on top; Double Chocolate with Cream Cheese Chocolate Ganache and white pearl sprinkles; and Orange with Cream Cheese frosting and circus peanuts.  The Double Chocolate and Orange are modified versions of my favorite cake recipe, but the Peanut Butter Cup was one that I tried for the first time, and I have to say that I was impressed.  It was like eating a giant peanut butter cookie.

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Here’s what you need:

cupcakes:

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup milk

18 full-sized peanut butter cups

frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted

Here’s what you do:

cupcakes:

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Combine the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Fill 18 paper-lined muffin cups about half  full.  Place one peanut butter cup on top of the batter, pressing it in slightly.  Cover with more batter filling the cups about 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 26-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

frosting:

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl and mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl as you work.

Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Slowly add in the white chocolate.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Here’s what you need:

cupcakes:

8 Tbls butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 pkg instant chocolate pudding mix

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1 Tbls vanilla

2 eggs

frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

8 Tbls butter, room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

8 oz milk chocolate chips

3 Tbls heavy cream

Here’s what you do:

cupcakes:

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  In another bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients alternately into the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the dry. Fill 12 paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.

frosting:

In a double boiler, combine chocolate chips and cream.  Heat on medium heat until melted, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar until evenly combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the melted chocolate.

Orange Cupcakes

Here’s what you need:

cupcakes:

8 Tbls butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup orange juice

zest of two oranges

1 1/4 cups flour

1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk

1 Tbls vanilla

2 eggs

frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar

6 oz cream cheese, room temperature

4 Tbls butter, room temperature

1/2 tsp vanilla

Here’s what you do:

cupcakes:

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and orange zest.  In another bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients alternately into the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the dry. Fill 12 paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.

frosting:

In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add vanilla.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar until evenly combined.

 

Bourbon Celebration May 26, 2011

When asked what baked good he wanted for his birthday, my friend CP replied, “A bottle of bourbon.”  I immediately thought, I can do that.   And I did.  In the form of a Chocolate Bourbon Cake decorated with Candied Bourbon Pecans and accompanied by Bourbon Ice Cream.  It was a bourbon dessert feast, and it was amazing.  I knew I wanted a cake that was rich without being too sweet with a dense, tight crumb.  So, I modified my favorite cake recipe by adding cocoa, vanilla pudding mix, and bourbon, of course.  The pudding mix might sound like an odd addition, but it is a great way to make cakes more dense similar to a torte.  I have to say that I’m not much of an alcohol in cake person.  I typically think that the alcohol can be overwhelming, but the bourbon in this cake gave the chocolate a warm spice flavor that was quite enjoyable.

Here’s what you need:

for the cake:

8 Tbls butter

3/4 cup sugar

zest of 2 clementines

1/4 cup bourbon

1 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup milk

1 Tbls vanilla

2 eggs

for the toppings

(glaze)

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbls bourbon

(candied pecans)

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup milk

1 10 oz pkg pecan halves

2 Tbls vanilla

1 oz bourbon

Here’s what you do:

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare one round cake pan by spraying with non-stick spray and lining with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and clementine zest.  Stir in bourbon.

In another bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine wet ingredients.

Mix wet and dry ingredients alternately into the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the dry.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Glaze:

Once cake is cool, combine the powdered sugar and bourbon stirring until smooth and drizzle over the cake.

Candied Pecans:

In a medium sauce pan, combine salt, sugar, cinnamon, and milk.  Bring to boil over medium heat stirring occasionally.  Continue to boil the candy mixture until it reaches soft ball stage, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and bourbon, then pecans.

Immediately spread pecan mixture onto a wax paper lined surface and separate using two forks.  This makes more pecans than you will need for decorating, but you will be glad to have the extra.  They are a bit addictive.

Decorate the top of the cake with candied pecans and some additional clementine zest.

Serve with Homemade Bourbon Ice Cream.

 

A Thank You and Some Homemade S’mores April 11, 2011

As I’m sure you remember, on March 30th I contributed to an online bake sale that was being organized by Sabrina over at The Tomato Tart to benefit earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis victims in Japan.  Despite some technical difficulties with her site on the day of the bake sale, we still managed to not only meet the goal that Sabrina set, but triple it!  Every single item sold and the Online Bake Sale for Japan managed to raise $8,269 to be donated to Second Harvest Japan!  Raising this amount of money is truly amazing.  I’m completely overwhelmed by the charity of others; everyone who participated, from the bakers to the bidders, contributed to the success of this bake sale and I am truly thankful for having been a part of it.  That being said, if you bid on something for the bake sale and did not win, you can still donate to the cause.  Sabrina set up a fundraising site over at Give Forward that will continue to raise money until June 10th.  She has set a new goal of $10,000.  Anything you could spare would be greatly appreciated as Second Harvest Japan will contribute $1,000 in food for every $100 donated.  That means if we manage to raise $10,000, they will donate $100,000 worth of food, which is a staggering amount.

I would like to thank everyone who bid, especially Angele, Karen E., Julie, Karen S., Tali, Kim, and Rose for their winning bids.  Thank you ladies for contributing to a good cause!  I will be sending out your sweet treats soon.  If you were one of my winning bidders and don’t see your name here, that’s because Sabrina hasn’t received your paypal yet.  Be sure to send it soon or contact Sabrina at bakesale@thetomatotart.com.

So, that was the Thank You, now on to the S’mores!

One of the items that I contributed to the bake sale was Homemade S’mores.  Now, one could argue that all s’mores are homemade, but I deem these “homemade” because they start with the Homemade Marshmallows recipe from one of my favorite dessert cookbooks Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth.  I love this cookbook because it is filled with tons of goodies that truly live up to the title.  My only wish is that it had more pictures: I love a cookbook that has a picture to go with every recipe. After I made these for the first time, I decided that homemade marshmallows are a necessity in life; they are just so much better than store-bought.  They’re soft and pillowy and just slightly chewy, plus you can cut them into any shape you want.  (I prefer stars.)  Homemade S’mores are the most requested sweet from all of my friends: I make them for Christmas, birthdays, graduations, random Tuesdays, any occasion I can think of.  The marshmallow aspect of the S’mores is a bit labor intensive (you need to use a stand mixer because they have to beat for 15 minutes and the completed marshmallows have to set for 8-12 hours before cutting), but the time it takes is completely worth the end result.

Here’s what you need:

marshmallows:

1 cup cold water

3 Tbls unflavored gelatin

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbls vanilla

cornstarch and powdered sugar for dusting

s’mores:

graham crackers

chocolate almond bark

Here’s what you do:

Generously dust a large jelly roll pan with cornstarch and set a side.  If you prefer thicker marshmallows, use a 13×9 cake pan.  Pour 1/2 up cold water into the bowl of a stand mixture and sprinkle in the gelatin allowing it to absorb all of the water.  This will take about 45 minutes.

While gelatin is absorbing, combing the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a large saucepan.  Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to high and let the mixture come to a boil.  Cook the syrup, without stirring, until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove the syrup from the heat and slowly beat it into the dissolved gelatin with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer on low speed.  Increase the mixer to high and continue beating until the mixture is very thick and white but still warm, about 15 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla.  (You could use a handheld mixer, if you want, but 15 minutes is a long time.  Believe me I have tried.)

Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula or your hands.  It works best if you spray your hands with cooking spray and slowly pat it out.  Dust the top with powdered sugar.

Let the marshmallows stand, uncovered at room temperature, for 8-12 hours to firm up.  Cut into squares or fun shapes.

In a glass bowl, melt 5 to 6 squares of chocolate almond bark according to microwave directions on package.

Line your work surface with waxed paper and prepare your graham crackers.

One at a time, dip the top of each graham cracker in the melted almond bark, lay chocolate-side-up on the waxed paper, and immediately place one marshmallow on top of the chocolate.  Let the s’mores cool until set and store in an air-tight container.

 

Bake Sale for Japan Contributions! March 23, 2011

I have finally decided what I will be contributing to the Online Bake Sale for Japan!  I thought I would give you a little sneak peak of my contributions with some info on each.  Recipes will follow shortly.  Be sure to check the site in the days leading up to the auction on the 30th to see all of the treats up for bid.

The first time I made this Whole Wheat Vegan Banana Bread I fell in love with it.  I now feel the need to make it about once a week.  Sometimes I even make two and store one in the freezer in case I’m having a banana bread emergency and just need to eat some…right now.  This bread is moist and slightly dense, as any good banana bread should be, and completely free of eggs and dairy.  (Two loaves available.)

If you love the crunch, crumble, and buttery goodness of shortbread cookies, but don’t eat dairy or eggs, these Vegan Shortbread Cookies are for you.  They get their buttery taste and flaky crumble from butter flavored vegetable shortening,  are completely egg and dairy free, and made with natural, raw sugar.  They’re especially good with a little jam on top!  You will receive 20 shortbreads in a decorative tin.

Jam is something I always have in my pantry.  It’s so very versatile.  I particularly love to use it to dress up cookies.  This Set of Four Jams would be a perfect addition to your pantry.  The flavors include: Strawberry Balsamic, Lemon Curd, Mango Cinnamon, and Blueberry Lime.  These jams have been canned and will last up to a year, but I expect they will be long gone before then.  Except for the Lemon Curd, they are egg and dairy free.  (Four sets available.)

Whenever an overwhelming urge to bake cookies starts to come over me, I make Blackberry Jam Thumbprints.  They are seriously delicious and everyone loves them.  They are soft, crumbly cookies with a sweet jam center.  The cookies are rolled in white sparkling sugar before baking to give them a little crunch.  These bite-sized cookies are so good I could easily eat a dozen in one sitting, so I am going to ship you three dozen in a decorative tin.

Homemade marshmallows are a necessity in life; they are just so much better than store-bought.  They’re soft and pillowy and just slightly chewy, plus they make the cutest S’mores!  Homemade S’mores are the most requested sweet from all of my friends.  I’ll be shipping a dozen of these in a decorative tin to ensure the marshmallows stay fresh.

 

 

 
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