NaBloPoMo: Post 2

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, and I have told people that I graduated from the CIA with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, I have been asked what my specialty is/what my favorite thing to bake is. I have almost a different answer every time because I like to bake just about anything and don’t really have a “specialty”. I do, however, have a few favorite recipes that I like to turn to, and since this post is a part of the NaBloPoMo, and the theme this month is fan, I bring you a list of my favorite things to bake, and their recipes:

  1. Better Than Brownie Cookies. They are a great chocolaty cookie recipe that I found on another blog a couple of years ago and I like baking them every so often. I have come up with different variations of the recipe such as using butterscotch or peanut butter chips instead of the second cup of chocolate chips. I think, like brownies, these cookies allow you to have a very creative license. Last night I dreamed about making them with a sprinkle of sea salt on them. (Yes, I dream about dessert!)
  2. Pie Pops. Also found on a blog a couple of years ago. Every time I make them or bring them up in conversation, people get pretty excited about them. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s a mini pie on a stick.
  3. Chocolate chip cookies. I have always liked using the recipe from the back of the Nestle chocolate chip bag for as long as I have been making chocolate chip cookies (which is a long time). I also like adding different things to them. This recipe has oatmeal and bananas in it.
  4. Ice Cream. I have yet to buy an ice cream machine/attachment for my KitchenAid (though my birthday is coming up in November; hint, hint, nudge, nudge) but I love making ice cream. I love that this is also one of those things you can get really creative with. By the way, while it’s not on my favorite list, it is National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day!
  5. Brownies/Blondies. So easy and so chewy and good. Love to make brownies in a smaller pan than what is called for. Usually, brownies are baked in a 9×13 pan and I bake them in a 9×9 or an 8×8. This makes them more fudgy and gooey and that’s what you want in a brownie, right? I know it’s kinda weird, but I also only like the middle-no edges for me!

So there it is. The top five things I like to bake. My turn to ask: what’s your favorite thing to bake/what’s your specialty? (you can answer in the comments)

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Chocolate Marquise

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

This challenge was mainly about the marquise, which is basically a frozen mousse. It was served with meringue and caramel and spiced almonds.

This was somewhat similar to the other mousse/meringue challenges we’ve had, but what made this one different, and had something I hadn’t really done before, which were the spiced nuts. I couldn’t find whole almonds, so I used slivered, and used extra cinnamon instead of adding cayenne. They were awesome! I even used some leftovers to top some cupcakes! I didn’t take a picture of everything, but I’ll share what I’ve got!

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Ice Cream Bread

I made this bread because I was intrigued by the ingredients, especially the part about using any ice cream flavor. I got the ice cream from Trader Joe’s, and while they’re all about natural ingredients, this ice cream did fall into the category of having unpronounceable  ingredients.

I think this bread would’ve been better if it was made with all natural ingredients. The bread I made was gummy and doughy, and just weird in texture.

I thought it would work out to be a brioche-y pound cake, since the ingredients would’ve worked out that way, if they were broken down in their natural state. Ice cream is basically milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks. This, combined with self-rising flour-or what I had on hand-a combination of flour, baking powder, and salt-would be an ingredients list for pound cake. The part that reminded me of brioche was how much fat was being used. I would like to try the recipe again with an all natural ice cream, perhaps one that I make myself.  For those of you who want to try it yourself, and perhaps, comment about it, the recipe follows. Continue reading

March 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Yeasted Merigue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

This was my first time baking a cake like this. I have made cinnamon buns, which are similar in that they are yeasted, and have the same cinnamon-sugar-chocolate chip (and nut) filling, but what makes this different is the meringue and the shape.

I think it came out well and since I am typing this while they bake, I can only tell that they smell delicious already! The Daring Bakers also offered a different filling, one that used saffron and other spices. I stuck to the typical filling since this was my first time to make it, and those ingredients are just a bit cheaper.

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C is for cookie, and that’s good enough for me!

Purim was celebrated on Saturday and what a day it was!

In the morning, I ran with the Jews For Run group in their Pacing For Purim “race”. It was the first time I went running (other than going to the gym) and I had a great time (even getting drenched in the rain)! It was motivational to run in a group and to get inspiration from runners of all kinds of experience.

The main highlight of the day was Purim Palooza (see pictures here -I’m in some!) I went to the show at Temple Emanu-el as Cookie Monster, but took the hat off that made the costume, and became just someone in a onesie at the after party at the Rockit Room. Anyway, as Cookie Monster, I thought it was a good idea to show up with a bunch of cookies, and since it was Purim, I decided on Hamentashen. I used the same recipe as before, and used chocolate chips as the filling and put some poppy seeds in the dough. I found that the ones that were more closed tasted better, since you got chocolate in each bite.

This post was brought to you by the letter H, for Hamentashen!

The Cookie Experiment

I did a baking experiment about the difference between baking powder and baking soda. For this experiment, I baked chocolate chip cookies.

I made four varieties:

  1. with no leaveners
  2. with only baking powder
  3. with only baking soda
  4. with both baking soda and baking powder

The recipe called for baking soda only, so I guess you could call that the “control” of the experiment. The 3rd and 4th varieties were chewier and tastier than the 1st and 2nd varieties. Below are the pictures representing each variety. You can tell that the baking powder creates a cookie that doesn’t spread as much and kept more of a dome shape, while the baking soda created a flatter, more spread out cookie.

no leaveners used

only baking powder used

only baking soda used

both baking powder and baking soda used

I’ve got a feeling that SHABBAT’s gonna be a good night…

The title of this post inspired by this video…I am hosting a Shabbat Dinner tonight and it’s gonna be a good night. The dinner will be paid for by the Birthright Israel NEXT team. I am making vegetable matzo ball soup, roasted chicken, lasagna, some veggie sides, and of course, some awesome dessert including a pumpkin pie and chocolate cake. Recipes are either from Gourmet or Bon Appetit magazine or from other blogs or from my mother’s old recipes. (click on links for more information) This is the first dinner I am hosting, and hopefully not my last.

thanks to Rob, Zoe, Staci, Jason, Michele, Peter, and Aaron for making this night a special Shabbat to remember!