Ice Cream Adventure

30 Jan

Oh yeah! In case you didn’t see, my Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles photo made it to Foodgawker about two weeks ago! Yes.

I feel sorry for whoever my brother marries because she could never be as cool as my sister-in-law. And if she is, well, goddamn, I never knew the best family could get any better. But onto Ice Cream Adventure. I really need to charge my camera or figure out what’s wrong with my 70’s AE-1.

Ben and Jerry’s, trucked in from a factory to a storefront. Dang, it sucks – it just tastes like frozen. Nonetheless, I still let a certain boy take me out to Free Cone Day that first time it rolled around without opening my mouth.

Ben and Jerry’s, fresh made at home from their cookbook with one of your best friends and a brand new Kitchenaid ice cream maker attachment. Dang, it’s fantastic!

We used the sweet cream base recipe – 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk, 3/4 cup sugar, and two eggs, simply whisked together until blended, then thrown into the ice cream maker for us to ooh and aah over as I crushed Mint Creme Oreos to throw in. Let me tell you, this was one of the best ice cream combos I’ve ever tried. Simple as hell, too. How come no one has capitalized on this mint cookies ‘n cream thing? Mint Oreos > peppermint extract, plus they are green!! Next time – and there is definitely going to be a next time – I will freeze the Oreos before crushing them – the creamy center actually was quite creamy, so a lot of is smooshed out into the crushing bag and didn’t make it into the ice cream. I thusly flipped the bag inside out and licked off all the cream.

I totally favored a sweet cream base with these as opposed to a yummy rich vanilla base. But as always, I would have subbed more milk for cream, or some half-n-half, because homemade ice cream always seems to coat my mouth in fat. Yes. Butter grosses me out. Yet I eat the hell outta cookies. Go figure.

Coming up next: Rose’s Chocolate Genoise Cake with Amaretto Syrup and Strawberry Whipped Cream for someone awesome’s birthday!!



Crack Cookies

28 Jan

I went to Bryan for a few days to visit friends, check out the skate contest and a few bands, and fix shit up. Oh and apparently bake 3 batches of these Alexis’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies. For the same household. Three. Days. In. A. Row. I’m not complaining. Sorry, no photos, just info for today!

Classic Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I used Martha’s recipe from her Cookies book (surprise, surprise). I halved it, and it made about 3 dozen, maybe a little more, T-rex and triceratops cookies. I colored them vivid purple and green and used an adapted version of her Royal Icing (just subbed more powdered sugar for the meringue powder and threw in 1/2 tsp almond extract) to decorate them with eyeballs, bloody teeth, claws, and fancy stripey designs on their backs. Some even wore undies! I took them to work and Shelia ate all of them, leaving one cookie for the rest of the store to fight over. Cassie already Facebooked me for the recipe. And they disappeared in a flash at the contest and PJ’s house. So if you’re a little tired of your sugar cookie recipe, I’d definitely say try these out. They held their shapes very nicely and weren’t puffy, so they were really nice for frosting. By themselves, a little bland, but throw in some almond extract, and it punches up the deliciousness of the cookie, as well as the frosting! In fact, they asked me to make a second batch, which disappeared the next day!

Alexis’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

It started out innocently enough. PJ’s mom had been searching for recipes for us to bake while I visited and came across this one on Martha’s site. They looked really thin. I mean, really thin. Check out the picture. I’m a fluffy chocolate chip cookie girl, you guys know this!! But I’m always up for trying a new CCC recipe, so I started out by halving this one. 1 lb butter. 3 cups brown sugar. Holy hell. These are fucking spectacular. You don’t even know. Go to the store. Buy all their butter and Imperial Light Brown Sugar. And make these cookies. They barely lasted til the next morning, and they requested I make another full batch that night, and those were gone the next evening, when PJ requested yet ANOTHER BATCH! He never ever eats cookies, not his thing, but he was a vacuum cleaner with these. Jason was wolfing them down, too. Everyone was, me, Nana, mama, Cowboy John. Seriously. They spread like crazy, so put them very far apart, but they are fantastic. The edges get crispy and carmelized, like candy, while the inside stays soft and chewy. They don’t even need chips. We did two batches with chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, and another with chocolate chips and Heath brickle bits, with marshmallows pressed on after baking (like s’mores). They were amazing. I brought home 6 for my parents. Within two hours of them getting home, they were gone. MAKE THESE. SERIOUSLY. I got twice as many cookies as she said I would from the recipe, which is a good thing, because you will need them. MAKE THESE.

I think the secret ingredient is crack.

Satan compels you.

Almond Chiffon Cake with Raspberry Whipped Cream Frosting

22 Jan

Who: Katie and her original partner in crime (read baking – we (read she) are law abiding citizens)

What: Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Almond Shamah Chiffon Cake with Raspberry Whipped Cream

When: January 18, 2010

Where: Katie’s Mom’s Magical Oven – Sugar Land

Why: The rare warm weather said to bake something light and fluffy – chiffon cake fit the bill. But what to dress it in? The suggested raspberry buttercream or the lighter raspberry whipped cream? Let’s dress her like a lady. Raspberry whipped cream fits nicely.

How: Well, little lady (yeah dudes, you’re little ladies, too, because guess what? I’m the author and I’ll assign genders as I please), uh, I can’t be clever anymore, so let’s just get on with it.

Almonds are good when they’re raw. They’re good when they’re blanched. But they’re great when they’re toasted. Rose told us to toast them. So we did. She told us to grind them up in the food processor with some of the flour (Wondra, she adamantly insisted), so we did. Jeebus Johnny Christ, did it smell fantastic. And it was only the first step.

We had an awesome new tool this time – digital scale! Digital scale is a cool friend, he weighs things and tells us we need ten fewer grams of egg whites, so we spoon out some of the whites, only for them to all bloop out as one big egg white. We used 11 eggs getting this right – I think it was really supposed to take about 8 eggs total. The yolks and some sugar went into a bowl and got the shit beat out of them until light and pale and fluffy. Excuse me, until a ribbon formed when the beater was lifted. Rose told us to pour the almond/flour mixture on top of the beat egg yolks and let it sit. Are you sure? Really? Ok…you wrote the Cake Bible, which might as well be the real bible, so we’ll trust you. She was right. the flour sank in slowly, and it was beautiful.

I have a confession to make, Rose: I have never beat egg whites before. Ever. I imagine their texture just like I imagine the texture of snow – something I’ve never really been in but see on TV all the time and just have to come up with my own idea of what it’s like. I’ve always wanted to beat egg whites – beating something only to see it get frothier and more structured fascinates me. I’ve always LOVED whipping cream, so I was very excited that this recipe called for beating egg whites. It was just as amazing as I had imagined it would be. And more. Some cream of tartar helped stabilize it.

The next step was to fold the whites into the yolk/flour mixture. I had also never folded whites into anything, so this was really exciting. Rose told us it was supposed to form a very thick batter, and it was indeed quite thick, and extremely delicious. We spooned it into two floured 9 inch round pans, lined in parchment on bottom, and baked for about 20 minutes. Immediately upon leaving the oven, each cake was liberated from it’s metal prison cell in a series of flips and flops from on cooling rack to another. They waited for us while we went to the liquor store for amaretto liqueur.

I need money. Lots of money. For lots of amaretto. First try, and it was delicious. The syrup was easy enough, bring sugar and water to a boil, let it cool, and stir in the amaretto. The hard part was leveling the cakes so they would have a nice spongy surface to brush the syrup onto. I cut one layer completely crooked. Oops. Guess who cut the second one. The syrup brushed on easily, and tasted amazing. We almost skimped on the syrup. No. Do not skimp. Rose says syrup. You syrup.

The raspberry whipped cream is now my go-to frosting for revamping a played out cake idea. I’ve been tired of buttercream frosting lately, too sweet, and too heavy. This whipped cream was just a pint of whipped cream, whipped until stiff peaks, and then whipped in a jar of raspberry jelly (all fruit spread was actually what we used, no fake sugar stuff, just natural fruit). Um. Ok. Yeah. Seriously guys.

This was absolutely amazing. I could have eaten it all day long. And I saved it and noshed off it each time I opened the fridge when I was helping with dinner. It frosted the cake perfectly. I imagine you can use any jelly or seedless preserves or fruit spread for this – strawberry, apricot, orange, pineapple, cranberry…I seriously can’t want to try a new flavor – for somebody’s birthday at the end of the month, perhaps?

The final verdict: This cake was amazing. It was beautiful, both outside and once cut. The whipped cream was the most pale pink with flecks of real fruit. It cut perfectly. And the taste. Definitely above and beyond anything we’d ever made before. It tasted like a really professional wedding cake. My dad really liked it. My mom loved it and went back for seconds and thirds and finished it the next day. I’m definitely making this again. The almond cake was a little eggy by itself, but once all assembled, was very almondy and delicious, and the next day was super amazingly moist from the syrup. It’s a very light, fluffy cake that will blow everyone out of the water when they taste it. Get this book. Make this cake.

Oatmeal Applesauce Remix and Key Lime Pie

20 Jan

In lieu of no photos, I’ve decided to actually post the recipes and instructions for these. I’ve finally found my camera battery and charger, so I’ll be able to have my camera with me at home and on the go. Expect better photos soon!

I’ve been meaning to make some more healthful cookies for my brother Bucky, who’s been on Nutrisystem and trying to be all healthy. I take him these delicious chocolate chip cookies made with 2 sticks of butter and he wolfs them down, and then I feel bad for throwing off his diet. But this time I decided to finally make something he can eat that is a nice hearty cookie with around 100 calories each!

I modified Martha’s Oatmeal Applesauce Cookie recipe. I halved the butter and used mashed banana to replace it, resulting in sweeter, more moist cookies. I also switched out 1/4 cup of flour for flax, which next time I think I will just add in the flax on top of the flour. I threw in about 3/4 to 1 cup of each toasted walnuts and carob chips, AND I used whole wheat flour and cut out the maple icing. How’s that for more healthful? Flax, whole wheat flour, nuts, oats, bananas, AND apples! OH and I added a tablespoon of molassesiron and calcium!

These were really good, Bucky ate 4 straight from the oven, and everyone else ate at least two. They were nice and soft and very moist, and sweet – next time I’ll cut down on the brown sugar to make them a little more crisp and less sweet – the bananas added a fair amount of sweetness. They were even better then next day! I am definitely trying these again, to perfect my healthful cookie recipe, along with trying different flavor combos – almonds and orange, lemon and blueberries, any ideas?

Oatmeal Applesauce Healthful Remix [Banana/Walnut/Carob]

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

  • 2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp mashed ripe banana
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulate sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup carob chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Put butter, banana, and sugars in a bowl and beat them until well combined. Lower the speed and add the egg, then the applesauce, then the extracts and molasses. Stir in the dry ingredients in three batches. Stir in the walnuts and carob chips.
  3. Your dough my be very sticky, so chill in the freezer until it is easier to handle. Using a tablespoon measure and a normal spoon or your finger, measure level tablespoons of dough and drop onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, 9 to a sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the centers are just about set. Let cool for  a minute or two on the sheets, then remove to cooling rack to cool fully. Let these sit for a day for the flavors to meld for an even more excellent treat.

Next up is the key lime pie. This recipe is Martha’s Key Lime Bars from Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant, but I used a 9-inch pie plate instead of an 8×8 for bars. I ground up some toasted pistachios to use in the crust, but I don’t think it made a difference. Also, I used normal limes, not key limes, because juicing 3-4 limes is a pain, but 23+? That’s crazy!! I ended up throwing in a very generous tablespoon more of lime juice, which made the tartness just right. If you like a more tart key lime pie, start with the recommended 2/3 cup and add lime juice by the tablespoon until you get the desired flavor.

The crust was so good!! Mmm, delicious graham cracker crust, just a little sugary, I made sure to make extra for my mom and I to snack on. The filling was amazing! Super easy to put together (once you get past the tediousness of juicing limes), just egg yolks, lime juice, and sweetened condensed milk. On top of that, it only has to bake about 10 minutes (I ended up baking mine considerably longer, more like 20 minutes, which is weird, because circle or square, they have the same area). Between the eight of us, the pie was gone by the end of the night (and I cut everyone very small peices!)!

I normally hate key lime pie, but this was amazing, and has made me not hate this tart little dessert – at least not this recipe. I’d definitely say try it out next time you need a quick, light tasting dessert – try mini key lime pies or bars and freeze them for special treats every now and then!

Joe’s Stone Crab Key Lime Pie

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice , (about 23 Key limes total)
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk, (14 ounces)
  1. Preaheat oven to 150. Grease a 9 inch pie plate. In a small bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter and press evenly into the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes, until you can just start to smell it and the top of the crust is turning a light golden brown. Let cool (or pop into the fridge).
  2. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and lime zest until lightened and fluffy. Gradually mix in sweetened condensed milk. Add lime juice. Add more lime juice by the tablespoon to taste if you like a more tart, limier pie.
  3. Pour filling into pie crust and bake for 10 minutes, until center of pie is set and no longer jiggly. Remove, let cool, and pop into the fridge until ready to serve with a dollop of whipped cream and lime zest for garnish.

Coming up tomorrow: Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Shamah Almond Chiffon Cake with Raspberry Whipped Cream from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. DO. NOT. MISS. IT.

Vegan Lemon Bars: Just Meh

20 Jan

I really just want to cut to the chase with these, so minimal story telling. Amanda and I made Vegan Lemon Bars from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, while they were an adventure, they frankly were a little disappointing. Here’s how it went:

I gathered the ingredients at Central Market: Meyer lemons (no where near as beautiful or tasty as ones from my mom’s tree, but we just had a big freeze), arrowroot powder, and agar agar – a whopping $89.99/lb, so I marked it as garlic granules and got the amount I needed for about a quarter. This recipe has two parts: making the crust and making the filling. The crust was easy, toss some flour, powdered sugar, and dairy-free margarine into a food processor and pulse until mealy, then press into a 9×13 pan and bake. The filling, on the hand, was another story.

We had never used agar agar, and actually had powder as opposed to flaked like the recipe called for, so ours thickened up straight away when added to water in a pot. It was sitting there waiting while the crust baked, and got really thick, so we added about a tablespoon or so more water, and once the crust came out, threw in the arrowroot, lemon juice, and zest, along with a prodigious amount of sugar. Once that had dissolved, we poured it into the crust and let it set in the freezer for maybe an hour, being generous. We were impatient!!

Well, they were beautiful – perfectly flat and even and easily cut. The crust was pretty yummy, albeit greasy – I’d say cut down on the not-butter by a couple tablespoons (it took a whole cup!). But the filling, it was this firm jello-like consistency, and not very lemony. It needed a lot more lemon flavor and zing to be a successful lemon bar, regardless of the texture of the filling. I’d never had a lemon bar, so I don’t really know what they’re supposed to taste like. I imagined them to be nice and tart, with a little of that being cut by the crust. These were sweet with a little bit of lemon flavor and a lot of crust. They were better with some powdered sugar dusted on top, but I don’t think we’ll be making these again. My dad threw these out without even having my mom taste them. Maybe it’s just because we’re dairy and egg folk.

So long story short, unless you are vegan, stick to regular lemon bars and switch out the butter for not-butter if your tummy is anti-dairy. But if you’re vegan, I bet you will dig these, just add more lemon juice and zest! Yes. That is my Shun knife.

Tomorrow: the pie that made me not hate key lime pie.

CCCC: Chocolate Chip Cookie Clash

18 Jan

When you really get down to it, I think chocolate chip cookies are my favorite cookies of all time. I could tell you why in a lot of descriptive terms, but I only need one – delicious. I’ve always heard it’s good to let them chill overnight, but let’s face it, who has that kind of patience? Better yet, baking the dough? Who has that kind of patience?!

Anyway, my original baking partner in crime, Deborah, got Ad Hoc sometime over the holidays and decided we should try Thomas Keller’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I figured, he’s a Keller, baking must run in the family, plus I’ve heard these are amazing. I was excited – they involved demerera sugar and two different types of chocolate. Deborah had already picked up all the ingredients, so we got to measure the dry and wet and chopping the chocolate with one of her Shun knives (yes, I have three, also). Some interesting points: The butter was put in cold, and I think this made it not quite so creamy with mixed with the sugar. Also, he said to sift out the little tiny bits of chocolate that flake off when you’re chopping it – good idea, big chunks only!

Let me tell you, this dough smelled absolutely fantastic. It was the sugar. It smelled like butter and honey mixed together and tasted great. Unfortunately, Deborah is still bad luck when it comes to chocolate chip cookies (the Bittman disaster), and these spread like crazy. They were very thin  and crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle. There was too much chocolate in both of our opinions, and while the mix of two different types was spot on, we will definitely cut down the amount of chocolate next time. When we did get a bit of the actual cookie part, it was really good. But next time, we are definitely chilling it and adding a couple more tablespoons of flour to make them less spready. We are both fluffy cookie girls.

A couple of days later, I got the itch while at Anthropologie looking at sale dresses and called up Gaby to come over and bake chocolate chip cookies. We watched Sweeney Todd while we were baking…appropriate. We grabbed some Callebaut 30% milk, 72.5% dark, and white chocolate in various disk and chunk forms from Whole Foods and set out with The Best New Recipes chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Got a little story for ya Ags. Down at that little apartment down the road, two Ags were makin’ chocolate chip cookies. They pulled ’em out of the oven, and one of ’em said “That’s the best cookie I’ve ever eaten” and from that day forward, that was her cookie recipe. And she compared all others to it and still talks ’bout ’em to this day. Seriously. I had never had a cookie that good in my life. They have never been quite as good as that first time I baked them with Amy, and forever we will have that special night. We still talk about it and I can never make them without thinking of her. In fact…I had talked to her just the night before we baked these!

Long story short, these were really really really good! All the chocolates paired well together, and Bucky even mentioned something about white chocolate and peanut butter chips for next time. They would have been perfect if I hadn’t realized we had 8 lbs of butter in the fridge hiding behind everything, so I used butter flavored Crisco instead. Mortal enemy!! I binged on 4 at lunchtime, and then ran 3 miles. Really. Try this recipe. Please. I implore you. A perfectly chunky soft fluffy chocolate chip cookie. Love.

Yeah…I’m not going to post it, because I can’t find it online, and I love this recipe so much that I think you should just go copy it down from the bookstore or the library.

Tomorrow…Vegan Lemon Bars. The little bar that couldn’t.

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

17 Jan

One of my best friends Deborah is getting married in March, and her sister Adriene and my mom threw her a bridal shower. These things are my mom’s specialty, it’s ridiculous. The tables were all set up with matching purple and lavender napkins, there were wine coolers, cheese straws, assorted crackers, chips, and pitas, cheese and bean dips, and hummus, not to mention the actual meal and dessert, which included my cupcakes, petit fors from Andre, and chocolate chip cookies from Nooky’s. Everyone had a really great time, and all the food was yummy – especially Adriene’s feta dip!!

I made it very clear ahead of time that I was going to make cupcakes because  Deborah and I have been doing cupcakes since we were in high school (more than half a decade ago!). It’s a sentimental thing, and we’ve advanced far beyond boxed mixes and my mom’s buttercream. I had this whole plan for these, which kinda fell through. I was going to make Martha’s Brownie Cupcakes with Lavender Frosting from her Cupcakes book. I made the brownie cupcakes (with Valhrona) and frankly, they were terrible. I was embarassed to even show them to my mom.

I chucked them (yes, they were that bad) and sat around sulking while my mom listed out cupcake ideas from some of the other books I had. While looking through the book Sabrina gave me, I came across a walnut cupcake. I remembered I had a ton of leftover hazelnuts from the pies we made in Corpus, and thought that would be a nice combo instead of walnuts with the lavender frosting.

I toasted up the hazelnuts, ground them up, and get this – used the food processor to mix everything together. Nope, overmixing did not occur. In fact, these were the most perfectly domed little cakes I have ever made. They were absolutely beautiful! Any worry about my cake disaster was wiped from my brain and I moved on to the lavender frosting.

I steeped the lavender in some milk and made the kitchen smell fantastic. I think I will try steeping my milk with lavender more often – it was really good! I mixed up my mom’s buttercream using the lavender-infused milk and colored it with some purple icing gel. I set aside a tiny bit and colored it green to make leaves for the tiny little purple flowers I was going to put into the cakes. I put them in tea light candle holders left over from Sarita‘s wedding – yes, mini cupcakes are perfect for anything tea light-sized.

They turned out ultra-adorable and tasted amazing! Hazelnut + lavender = best friends. I’m definitely saving this as a special occasion cake. They also taste good crumbled into Blue Bell Pistachio Almond ice cream…

Next on the menu: Thomas Keller’s Chocolate Chip Cookies -VS- Best New Recipes Chocolate Chip Cookies – who will be the winner? Can Thomas Keller’s mix of two different types of chocolate and demerera sugar swing my vote over to the family side, or does my loyalty stay with the cookie that made me proclaim is the best cookie I’d ever eaten upon first bite? Come back tomorrow to find out!